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High Flow-Rate Benchtop NMR Spectroscopy Enabled by Continuous Overhauser DNP

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journal contribution
posted on 17.06.2021, 15:41 by Raphael Kircher, Hans Hasse, Kerstin Münnemann
Analysis of a fast-flowing liquid with NMR spectroscopy is challenging because short residence times in the magnetic field of the spectrometer result in inefficient polarization buildup and thus poor signal intensity. This is particularly problematic for benchtop NMR spectrometers because of their compact design. Therefore, in the present work, different methods to counteract this prepolarization problem in benchtop NMR spectroscopy were studied experimentally. The tests were carried out with an equimolar acetonitrile + water mixture flowing through a capillary with a 0.25 mm inner diameter at flow rates up to 2.00 mL min–1, corresponding to mean velocities of up to 0.7 m s–1. Established approaches gave only poor results at high flow rates, namely, using a prepolarization magnet, using a loopy flow cell, and using a T1 relaxation agent. To overcome this, signal enhancement by Overhauser dynamic nuclear polarization (ODNP) was used, which is based on polarization transfer from unpaired electron spins to nuclear spins and happens on very short time scales, resulting in high signal enhancements, also in fast-flowing liquids. A corresponding setup was developed and used for the studies: the line leading to the 1 T benchtop NMR spectrometer first passes through a fixed bed with a radical matrix placed in a Halbach magnet equipped with a microwave cavity to facilitate the spin transfer. With this ODNP setup, excellent results were obtained even for the highest studied flow rates. This shows that ODNP is an enabler for fast-flow benchtop NMR spectroscopy.