Many pulse sequences employ pulsed field gradients for coherence selection thereby minimizing or eliminating the need for phase cycling. The routine use of pulsed field gradients has dramatically reduced the data collection times needed for many 2D experiments and therefore increased the throughput and productivity of NMR spectrometers. The field gradient coils in modern high resolution NMR probes surround the rf coils and are powered by an amplifier in the NMR spectrometer console. When a pulsed field gradient (typically 1 -2 msec in duration) is applied, the sample is no longer in a homogeneous magnetic field. When the gradient is turned off, the system must recover from the disturbance. This recovery is not instantaneous. Pulse sequences typically have delays of 50 - 200 μsec following a gradient pulse to allow for recovery of field homogeneity. The time for recovery after a gradient pulse depends on the design of the NMR probe, the strength and shape of the gradient pulse as well as the shielding between the gradient coils and the shim coils. One can measure the time required for recovery by applying a gradient pulse, and then collecting an NMR spectrum after a variable delay. In the figures below, the gradient recovery time was measured using a console equipped with gradients of maximum strength 50 G/cm, and a narrow bore 500 MHz broadband probe adapted to fit in a wide bore magnet. The duration of the gradient pulses was set to 1 msec. The first figure below shows the proton NMR data for a sample of doped 1% H2O in D2O with a line width of approximately 4 Hz with short term recovery times from 1 to 20 µsec.The top trace shows the data for a rectangular gradient at 100 % strength. The middle trace shows the results for a rectangular gradient of 50% of full strength and the bottom trace shows the data using a sine bell shaped gradient pulse of 100 % strength. One can see that for the rectangular gradients the full intensity of the line is recovered in as little as 10 µsec. When the sine bell shaped gradient pulse is used, the full intensity of the line is recovered in less than 1 microsecond. This faster recovery is the result of the gradual rise and fall of the gradient strength in the sine bell shaped pulse.
A 4 Hz line is not a very sensitive gauge for the measurement of recovery times, so the experiments were repeated for a sample with a line of ~0.3 Hz in width where the line shape could be examined in detail at longer recovery times. The second figure shows the proton NMR data for a sample of 1% CHCl3 in acetone-d6 with a line width of approximately 0.3 Hz with long term recovery times from 50 to 800 msec.The top trace shows the data for a rectangular gradient at 100 % strength. The middle trace shows the results for a rectangular gradient of 50% of full strength and the bottom trace shows the data using a sine shaped gradient pulse of 100 % strength. One can see that in all cases a reasonable line shape is recovered in ~ 400 msec. The shape of the gradient pulse does not seem to influence the time required to recover a good line shape.