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14 December 2015

A new magnet for NMR

This week at the lab, engineers are fine-tuning a new magnet that will offer scientists a novel way to do nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

The magnet, along with a new cabinet and console, comprise the lab’s new 600 MHz spectrometer, which will be used for a new measurement technique with a very long name: magic angle spinning dynamic nuclear polarization. MAS DNP, as it is more reasonably called, gives scientists deciphering the structure of molecules a clearer picture of what they are looking at.

The 2,000-pound Bruker superconducting magnet was installed earlier this month, connected to cryogen and a power supplies, and ramped up to full field, 14.1 teslas. A special feature of the instrument is a second, small, "sweepable" magnet coil that allows scientists to fine-tune the field and frequency of the instrument.

In NMR spectroscopy, scientists put the material they are studying – let’s say a protein – inside the magnet, then direct radio waves of a specific frequency at it. These in turn send back signals identifying certain atoms, thus helping scientists piece together the sample’s structure. In the MAS DNP technique, a solvent containing free radicals is added to the sample. When irradiated with microwaves, the result is much stronger NMR signals and thus a clearer idea of the material’s structure.

This new setup, located in the MagLab’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Magnetic Resonance Imaging / Spectroscopy Facility, is among just a few in the world and the only one open to outside scientists, said Thierry Dubroca, a MagLab physicist who has helped develop the capability. The new system will be available to scientists in early 2016. Scientists interested in using MAS DNP should contact Thierry Dubroca, Zhehong Gan, Ivan Hung, Joanna Long.


Video by Stephen Bilenky / Text by Kristen Coyne

Last modified on 14 December 2015