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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W021390/1
Title: A solid-state NMR instrument for Northern Ireland
Principal Investigator: Manesiotis, Dr P
Other Investigators:
Nockemann, Professor PW Muldoon, Dr MJ Cochrane, Dr S
Thompson, Dr JM James, Professor S Swadzba-Kwasny, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry and Chemical Eng
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2022 Ends: 31 January 2024 Value (£): 956,055
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Energy Storage
Food structure/composition Physical Organic Chemistry
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals Healthcare
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
30 Nov 2021 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2021 - Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a powerful analytical technique with applications which span a wide range of areas from medicine (MRI) to engineering, materials, pharmaceutical and chemical science. It is based on the principle that atomic nuclei change their orientation when placed in a strong magnetic field, in order to align with the magnetic field itself, and can be probed for information about their environment using a complex sequence of radiofrequency pulses. The most common variant of NMR as an analytical tool is solution state NMR, in which case samples are dissolved in an appropriate, usually deuterated, solvent prior to analysis. Despite the immense usefulness of this analysis mode, dissolution of a sample means key information for its structure in its native form, usually solid, which is also the form in which the sample is often meant to be used, is lost. For example a pharmaceutical compound that is to be taken as a tablet or a polymer coating to be used on a medical device or engineering application, should be tested as solids and not in the dissolved state. Furthermore, modern materials such as ceramics, composites, but also tissue, foodstuffs and environmental samples such as soil, are insoluble in common solvents, which renders them incompatible with NMR analysis.

These limitations have been overcome with the introduction of solid-state NMR (SS-NMR) which is able to analyse solid samples, using more powerful pulses and complex signal processing. In this case, scientists are able to gather invaluable information about sample structure, homogeneity and purity directly, in its native form. The technique has found applications in chemical, pharmaceutical and materials science, but also food and environmental analysis.

In this proposal, we are requesting funding to purchase and install a SS-NMR instrument at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen's University Belfast, which will be the first and only of its kind in Northern Ireland and one of very few similar instruments on the island of Ireland, the north of England, and Scotland. This investment will offer academic and industrial researchers simpler, faster and less expensive access to this state-of-the-art technique, thus supporting the rapidly growing materials, energy, manufacturing, food, pharma and healthcare research and development in Northern Ireland, and neighbouring regions.

These areas align strongly with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the EPSRC's strategic research themes, and will support leading research in energy (CASE), healthcare technologies (MATCH), AI/Robotics and Manufacturing the Future (i-AMS, ECIT), and wider UKRI priority areas such as BBSRC's Bioscience for Sustainable Agriculture and Food theme (IGFS).

Apart from academic institutions NI, this application is supported by key industrial partners in the region and beyond, among which some of the biggest employers for skilled graduates in the energy, food, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing sectors.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk