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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V03622X/1
Title: The UK High-Field Solid-State NMR National Research Facility: EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment 2020/21
Principal Investigator: Brown, Professor SP
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Warwick
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 06 November 2020 Ends: 05 May 2022 Value (£): 250,000
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Biophysics
Chemical Biology Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Sep 2020 Core Equipment Award 2020 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is one of the most powerful analytical approaches for characterising molecular-level structure and dynamics. Researchers in the physical and life sciences apply the technique to address complex problems in systems as diverse as pharmaceuticals, battery materials, catalysis and protein complexes. Moreover, the power of solid-state NMR as an analytical technique is continually increasing in line with technological advances in NMR hardware.

An important area of NMR hardware development is magic-angle spinning (MAS) probe design. MAS involves physical rotation of the sample within the NMR spectrometer to remove the effects of interactions which broaden and complicate solid-state NMR spectra. Fast MAS frequencies remove these interactions more efficiently, thereby improving both the sensitivity and resolution of NMR spectra so that more information can be obtained. Over the last 30 years, advances in MAS probe design have led to continual increases in maximum MAS frequencies - from ~30 kHz in the 1990s to ~60 kHz in the late 2000s, and to ~110 kHz in the mid 2010s. Very recently, a MAS frequency of ~200 kHz has become available. This represents a big jump in MAS frequency and provides an exciting opportunity to study systems with unprecedented detail as well as opening up systems that are inaccessible at lower MAS frequencies.

The importance of high-field NMR spectroscopy has been recognised by the UKRI's recent £20M investment in a UK-wide network of high magnetic field NMR facilities in 2018. This included a £8M 1.0 GHz spectrometer with the highest field in the UK for performing solid-state NMR measurements, which will soon be incorporated into the UK High-Field Solid-State NMR National Research Facility (NRF). Here, we propose to maximise the capability and impact of this world-leading Facility by combining the 1.0 GHz spectrometer with a state-of-the-art 200 kHz MAS probe. We also propose to procure a chiller unit to provide increased capability for low- and room-temperature measurements - something which is required to counteract the frictional heating of the sample that results from fast MAS.

The availability of the state-of-the-art 200 kHz MAS probe will significantly increase the capabilities of the UK High-Field Solid-State NMR National Research Facility and help the UK to maintain its world-leading position in solid-state NMR research. The combination of the 1.0 GHz spectrometer with such fast MAS will enable experiments to be performed at the highest possible resolution and sensitivity; this is critical for NMR experiments on 1H nuclei and in correlation with other nuclei such as, 13C and 15N in systems such as pharmaceuticals, protein complexes and plant cells. The combination of high magnetic field and fast MAS is also important for studying quadrupolar nuclei, which make up over two thirds of the periodic table and are of great importance in materials science, but suffer from additional broadening interactions that complicate their observation at low magnetic fields and MAS frequencies.

Use of the hardware will be supported by the highly experienced Facility Management Team (FMT) who will use their technical expertise to help users maximise the capabilities of the equipment. The FMT will also drive forward new methodological developments based upon the investment, leading to wider impact in the solid-state NMR research community. In addition, the Facility will actively engage with the UK NMR community to promote and raise awareness of the new hardware capabilities. This will be done through close interaction with the recently-established Connect NMR UK network funded by EPSRC, and also through the Facility's existing programme to grow and diversify its user base beyond the NMR community through a range of outreach and engagement activities.

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Organisation Website: http://www.warwick.ac.uk