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Online ISSN: 1439-7641
February 07, 2010
World's most powerful NMR spectrometer now open for business
The world's first 1 GHz nuclear magnetic resonance instrument has been installed at the European Center for High-Field NMR (CRMN) in Lyon, France. The new spectrometer, which incorporates a 23.5 Tesla superconducting magnet, provides the best resolution and sensitivity achievable today and can be used to study systems that are out of reach for standard lower field instruments.
CRMN's scientific director Lyndon Emsley, who worked for several years with French governmental agencies to buy the instrument, is enthusiastic. He believes that the ultra-high resolution capabilities and sensitivity of the new system will enable breakthroughs in the study of several crucial problems. "Higher field in NMR has always led to unexpected new areas of application in the past, and we are convinced it will continue to do so in the future", he says. "For example neither the determination of 3D structures of proteins in solution, nor the development of clinic imaging systems was predicted before they happened, but both are in part the result of technological advances in magnet technology", he adds. Since the spectrometer is open to scientists across Europe, Emsley hopes that it will be used for many new exciting applications.
According to the researcher, complex materials (such as those used in catalysis or battery technologies) will benefit from the new system. High-field NMR can also be used to detect metabolites at lower concentrations in samples from humans or animal models in relation to understanding disease. But Emsley expects that structural biologists will remain one of the main user groups of high-field NMR. Transverse relaxation optimized spectroscopy (TROSY), a technique developed in the late 1990s, has allowed NMR spectroscopists to deduce the structures of large molecules by labelling the protein with different isotopes. "The TROSY effect is at its optimum at just over 1 GHz", Emsley says, "so we expect structural biologists to remain one of the key user groups of high-field NMR".
Photo: World's first 1 GHz NMR system: AVANCE 1000 (Bruker Biospin).