Billion-fold increase in NMR signal for ions in solution

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  • Published: Oct 28, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Base Peak / Raman / Proteomics / Chemometrics & Informatics / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base / MRI Spectroscopy / Atomic / X-ray Spectrometry / Infrared Spectroscopy

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β-NMR spectroscopy, previously used for nuclear physics and solid-state physics, has now been applied to solutions, providing unprecedented sensitivity for magnesium ions.

It's not often that you hear about mammoth advances in an established scientific field but one case has just been announced. European scientists have succeeded in applying β-NMR spectroscopy to ions in solution, with a resultant billion-fold increase in sensitivity.

The technique records the β-particles that have been released from spin-polarised radioactive nuclei following their implantation into a sample and was demonstrated with 31Mg in an ionic liquid. Using specially designed instrumentation at CERN-ISOLDE, the researchers measured spectra for 31Mg concentrations down to 107 ions within a few minutes.

The setup is described in ChemPhysChem and is applicable to any isotope that can be spin polarised. The extension of the technique to solutions will open up new avenues for studying the interactions of ions such as magnesium with biomolecules at physiologically relevant concentrations. It will also be useful in coordination chemistry studies.

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