It is not unusual to pay $50,000 - $120,000 for an NMR probe, depending on the configuration. Cryogenically cooled probes cost much more. Even the simplest NMR probes, which have very simple electronics, are very expensive. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. All of the components (including capacitors, coils, frame, shield, screws, adjustment rods, springs, supports etc...) must be nonmagnetic. These parts are often more expensive.
2. Since the market for NMR probes is quite small, specialty parts are manufactured in small batches making them more expensive.
3. Parts near the coil must be manufactured out of materials which will not give a background NMR signal or have huge magnetic susceptibility differences. These parts are often expensive.
4. Many parts must be machined to very strict tolerances. This is especially true for MAS probes but also true in high resolution liquids probes as well. The cost of very precise machining is very expensive.
5. Some materials which are desirable for NMR probes are very difficult to machine and require specialized expensive tools as well as highly paid and highly skilled machinists. An example of such a material is zirconia, used in many MAS probes.
6. A great deal of research and development on the part of the instrument company is invested in optimizing the design of the probe to improve rf handling, signal-to-noise ratio, lineshape, temperature handling etc... Instrument companies must compete with one another in this regard. These costs must be recovered.
7. Each probe must be individually NMR tested to ensure that it meets all of the specifications. This requires an NMR spectroscopist and an NMR spectrometer, neither of which come cheap.
Please note that I was not prompted by any sales person or instrument company to post this BLOG entry ...... and I do realize that instrument companies make a profit from the sale of NMR probes.