World-class facilities for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance chemists

Issued: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 15:16:00 GMT

Chemists at the Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews are part of a UK team that has been awarded £4M by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to set up a new large-scale Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility based at the University of Warwick. 

NMR is a phenomenon that exploits intense magnetic fields to study the chemical environment of atomic nuclei.  It is used by chemists and physicists to investigate the properties of molecules, crystals and polymers.  The magnet at the new facility alone will cost £2.5M and, with a magnetic field strength of 20 Tesla, will be one of the largest in the world.

Professor Steve Wimperis of the University of Glasgow and Dr Sharon Ashbrook of the University of St Andrews, together with colleagues from Cambridge, Durham, Nottingham and Warwick, will manage the new facility. 

They plan to use NMR of the oxygen-17 and aluminium-27 isotopes to find out where water molecules are trapped inside the unusual minerals that make up the Earth's mantle and to study how organic molecules move inside the pores of sponge-like solids, research that could help in the design of new catalysts for the petrochemical industry.

Dr Ashbrook, University of St. Andrews said: "This facility will place the UK at the forefront of world-class NMR research.  The magnetic field will be enormously strong.  It will allow us to study much smaller quantities of materials than before and perform experiments using magnesium-25 and sulphur-33 isotopes that we have previously considered impossible."

Professor Wimperis, University of Glasgow said: "It's great to see two Scottish universities at the heart of this exciting project, which will give the UK's world-class NMR researchers access to world-class equipment."

Further information: 

Professor Stephen Wimperis
Department of Chemistry and WestCHEM
Joseph Black Building
University of Glasgow

Tel: 0141 330 8284

Note for editors:

The full research team awarded the grant are led by Principal Investigator Dr. Steven P. Brown, Associate Professor at the University of Warwick along with  University of Warwick Professors Mark Smith and Ray Dupree. Co-applicants are from Cambridge (Dr Melinda Duer), Durham (Professor Robin Harris), Glasgow (Professor Stephen Wimperis), Nottingham (Dr Jeremy Titman), and St Andrews (Dr Sharon Ashbrook).

The initiative has also had  letters of support from 21 other UK solid-state NMR spectroscopists from 16 other UK universities, as well as from industrial companies such as Astra Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson Matthey, Nexia, and Sanofi Avensis.

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