From Theory To MRI: A Brief History Of NMR

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Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a physical phenomenon where a given nucleus absorbs and re-emits electromagnetic radiation. One of the top analytical methods in modern chemistry, NMR allows today's scientists to study the properties of atoms and other substances.

But NMR didn't always exist to help advance scientific techniques and boost your workflow.

A Brief History Of NMR: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Gets Its Start

Nuclear magnetic resonance was first accurately measured and described in 1938 by Isidor Rabi. Rabi, of Columbia University, successfully measured NMR in molecular beams. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in 1944.

But it wasn't until two years later that the development of NMR would truly start.

In 1946, Felix Bloch and Edward Mills Purcell were able to expand on Rabi's technique. Together, they were able to demonstrate NMR for the first time on liquids and solids. The two shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1952.

In an ironic twist, NMR had been observed by another physicist, Yevgeny Zavoisky, in 1941. Zavoisky, who's known for the discovery of electron paramagnetic resonance, had dismissed NMR because he believed the results couldn't be replicated.

The First Patent And NMR Unit

The first U.S. patent for NMR machines was made on July 24, 1951, by Russell H. Varian. Varian, the owner of Varian Associates, later developed the first NMR unit, dubbed NMR HR-30, the following year.

In the 1950s, research began on using NMR for data acquisition on natural gas. But it wasn't until the 1990s that commercial instruments were released to businesses.

These machines evolved into the low field NMR spectrometer, which can be used to measure rock porosity, identify gas or water, and estimate ground permeability after being lowered into a borehole.

NMR has also been adapted for the medical field in the form of MRI machines. Physicists Peter Mansfield and Paul Lauterbur first developed MRI-related techniques in the late 1970s. The two were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003.

Today, NMR is used in a variety of ways including the traditional purpose of analyzing nuclei.

The benchtop NMR spectrometer is one of the most useful tools in a chemist's lab. To learn more about the benchtop NMR spectrometer, low field NMR applications, or where you can find a tabletop NMR for sale, contact Nanalysis today.