2 April 2024

Snorri Th. Sigurdsson is invited to talk about Solid-state NMR via DNP

Snorri Th. Sigurdsson is invited to talk about Solid-state NMR via DNP

On March 21st, Professor Snorri Th. Sigurdsson, from the University of Iceland, gave the seminar entitled "Stable organic radicals for improving the sensitivity of NMR spectroscopy with Dynamic Nuclear Polarization". This seminar aimed to present the application of stable organic biradicals to improve the sensitivity of solid-state NMR via DNP.

Professor Snorri Th. Sigurdsson answered some questions about this instrument and its impact in CICECO's research.

- What does this technique consist of?
NMR stands for nuclear magnetic resonance, which is a spectroscopic technique used to acquire signals from atomic nuclei that give information about structures of chemicals, biopolymers and materials. NMR is in principle the same technique as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is used to image tissue and many people have a personal experience with. The main drawback of NMR is its low sensitivity. Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) addresses the sensitivity issue by giving two to three orders of magnitude increase in the strength of the NMR signals. The sensitivity enhancement is achieved by including free radicals in the sample, exciting them with microwaves and transferring the polarization of the excited electrons to the nuclei.
-  What are the primary scientific applications of this technique, and how do they translate into societal benefits?
DNP NMR has opened up the possibility to analyze of chemicals that are only available in small amounts and materials that have a low amount of the analyte(s) in the sample. Examples inculde natural products, biopolymers and materials. Structural information from such samples can assist in designing new pharmaceuticals and materials with new or improved properties that we will directly or indirectly benefit from.
- Can you provide some context regarding the international landscape surrounding this technique?
DNP-NMR instruments became commercially available in 2009 and thus, this is a relatively new field of research. In the last 15 years, the amount of scientific publications in this area has increased dramatically, showing both the interest in DNP-NMR and how it is being used to tackle challenging problems. Researchers at CICECO that use this technique will thus become important members of the growing and vibrant community that utilizes DNP-NMR for their research.
- With the implementation of this CICECO structure at the University of Aveiro, what avenues of opportunity does it open up?
The research focus in CICECO is on materials and since the major application of DNP-NMR is in that area, researchers at CICECO will benefit immensely from this new instrument. It will enable interrogation of mechanisms and processes that happen on the surface of materials, be it catalysis or absorption chemicals. One example at CICECO is in studying the details of how silica-based materials absorb carbon dioxide. Learning about the fundamental mechanism(s) of absorption of CO2 will give clues as to how the structure of the materials can be changed to improve their performance.
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