University of Ottawa NMR Facility Web Site

Please feel free to make suggestions for future posts by emailing Glenn Facey.

Friday, November 28, 2008


The quadrupolar Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill (QCPMG) sequence can be used to measure the NMR spectra quadrupolar I = n/2 nuclei in the solid state. This technique is essentially a T2 sequence where a series of echos are collected. The entire echo train represents the time domain data and is Fourier transformed to produce a frequency domain spectrum. The QCPMG spectrum consists of spikelets separated in frequency by the reciprocal of the time separation between the echos in the echo train. The intensity envelope of the spikelets mimics the static line shape. This is analogous to the rotational echoes in the FID's of MAS data and the associated spinning sidebands in the frequency domain MAS spectra. The QCPMG technique represents an improvement in sensitivity compared to a single conventional Hahn echo as the intensity is concentrated in the spikelets rather than spread across the entire frequency span of the spectrum. The figure below shows the pulse sequence, an echo train and a QCPMG 23Na spectrum of solid sodium sulfate at 4.7 Tesla. The 23Na Hahn echo spectrum is also ahown as a comparison to the QCPMG spectrum. The spectrum represents the central transition only. The satallite transitions are not visible.

Monday, November 24, 2008

90 Degree Pulses for I = n/2 Quadrupolar Nuclei in the Solid State

The 90 degree pulse for an I = n/2 quadrupolar nucleus in the solid state depends on the strength of the rf pulse with respect to the quadrupolar frequency. If the strength of the pulse is much greater than the quadrupolar frequency, the pulse is non-selective and excites all transitions equally. If however it is much less than the quadrupolar frequency, then the pulse is selective to the central (m = 1/2 - m = -1/2) transition. The duration of the pulse producing a maximum signal is shorter for selective vs. non-selective pulses at a similar power level. In solution, where the quadrupolar interactions is averaged by random isotropic molecular motion or in the solid state, if the symmetry around the I = n/2 nucleus is cubic, the quadrupolar frequency is small with respect to the strength of the rf pulses and the pulses are non-selective. When the symmetry around the I = n/2 nucleus in the solid state is non-cubic, the quadrupolar frequency is significant and the pulses are very often selective to the central transition. This is illustrated in the figures below for the 23Na MAS spectrum of a mixture of NaCl (cubic) and Na2SO4 (non-cubic). The first figure shows the 23Na MAS spectrum labelling each component of the mixture. The second figure shows the effect of increasing the pulse duration. One can clearly see that the 90 degree pulse for NaCl is close to twice that of Na2SO4.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Before You Leave .....

This may seem to be a strange post .... a rant really...... but very important.

Over the years I have seen many students start a long acquisition (or series of acquisitions) on spectrometers and then immediately leave the lab. After a long lunch, an afternoon of playing billiards, a good night sleep or perhaps a weekend of skiing, they return to the lab and find no useful data waiting for them.

Why? ......

Well ....... perhaps the spectrometer was set up to run 4 rather than 20,000 scans, perhaps the receiver was saturated, perhaps the recycle delay was set to 1000 seconds rather than 2 seconds, perhaps the pulses were not set correctly, perhaps the spectral width was set too small, perhaps the probe was not tuned and matched, perhaps a delay was set to 10 seconds rather than 10 milliseconds. perhaps a typing error was made in the command to start the acquisition..... etc.

The NMR lab charges you for your time whether you get useful data or not, so it is important to be careful.

Before you leave the lab......

1. Double check the parameters in your experiment and for all queued experiments.

2. Query the spectrometer as to how long the experiment will take ("expt" (Bruker), "time" (Varian)) and ask yourself if the response makes sense.
3. Check the probe tuning and matching.
4. Make sure the receiver gain has been set correctly.
5. Look at the first few scans to make sure you have a signal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Importance of Grinding Solid Samples

When the heteronuclear dipolar coupling interaction has been removed by high power decoupling, the NMR spectra of dilute spin I = 1/2 nuclei in a single crystal give rise to relatively sharp lines. The frequencies of the lines depend on the chemical shift tensor and the orientation of the single crystal with respect to the magnetic field. Finely powdered samples have many thousands of crystallites and all orientations of the crystallites with respect to the magnetic field are represented equally. As a result, for powders, one obtains a broad powder pattern. Samples that are not ground into a powder contain many fewer crystals than crystallites in a powder and will yield spectra with partially resolved lines. The envelope of lines for all of the crystals will approximate the true powder spectrum. An example of this is shown in the figure below.

Thank you to Victor Terskikh of the National Ultrahigh Field NMR Facility for Solids. for suggesting this post and kindly providing the data for the figure.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Complexed Solvents

I was once asked by an inorganic chemist: why do I have two THF signals in the spectrum of my compound dissolved in THF-d8? Many inorganic compounds crystallize with complexed solvent molecules as a fundamental component of their structure. This is particularly true of tetrahydrofuran (THF). The complexed solvent molecules are released when the solid compound is re-dissolved in solution and can easily be detected by high resolution NMR. The figure below shows the 500 MHz 1H NMR spectrum of an inorganic compound containing complexed THF which was re-dissolved in THF-d8. One can see the spectrum of the residual protons of the THF-d8 solvent and the spectrum of the complexed THF that was released when the solid was dissolved. The signals are separated due the isotope effect.