Spectrometer undergoing assemblage in Science Building West

SIUE's new NMR spectrometer for the chemistry department is currently being assembled at Science Building West

Like a stove to a kitchen—that how’s crucial the installation of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer (NMR) is to Science Building West according to Chemistry department chair Michael Shaw.

Shaw said without the $272,000 instrument, the chemistry department could not be accredited.

The NMR replaces the 25-year-old spectrometer being decommissioned in the part of the science building being renovated.

The NMR is currently being assembled, a process which will take about three weeks.

Used for core research within the department, students can use the NMR to identify newly synthesized compounds and learn the behavior of the biochemical material, which ultimately enables them determine each new compound’s usefulness.

The NMR is 30 percent stronger, “more robust, user friendly model and has modern software. It’s going to be delightful moving forward with this,” Shaw said.

The instrument consists of three main features. The most visible part, the super conducting magnet, has conducting power 70,000 times the earth’s magnetic field. A cabinet-sized electronic console processes signals from samples placed in the magnet. Finally, a computer features point-and-click buttons in contrast to the older model’s computer, which required typed commands.

The instrument looks at magnetic properties of atoms, but does not involve radioactivity in any way.

Chemistry professor Robert Dixon will oversee the NMR operational training, providing instructions for faculty.  Students, according to Dixon, will be required to take a two-week course to ensure the instrument is used in “a timely and safe manner.”

According to Dixon, the NMR packs the power of liquid helium and nitrogen, kept at very low temperatures creating a superconducting high magnetic field of strength which can measure the number and different kind of hydrogen [atoms] on the compounds. Through this, it gathers a “spectrum or data of the structure of the chemical,” he said. In other words, it identifies what composition is present.

Dixon said with the old spectrometer that, “students had to climb a ladder and put a glass sample in the [older machine] and it floated on air until they released it into the middle of the spectrometer.”

It also took six months to learn how to use. However, the new NMR has far more convenient capabilities, according to Dixon.

After a lengthy bid for the best offer, the department ordered the NMR more than two years ago from Bruker Instruments. Funds from Gov. Quinn for Science Building West made the purchase possible.

Dixon said the newest addition to the science building is “the biggest ticket item in the department of chemistry.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: ChemistryGeneral CAS Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site