What experiments do you recommend for undergraduate and college labs?

Nanalysis has a growing library of sample experiments you can perform on the NMReady. Examples include the Synthesis of Aspirin and Aldol Condensation.

Why Offer Hands-on NMR?

Since its conception, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy has become an increasingly ubiquitous characterization tool in synthetic chemistry due to simple sample preparation, relatively high throughput and the nondestructive technique. Regardless, upon introduction this concept remains one of the most poorly understood among undergraduate students. Introductory organic chemistry textbooks broach the subject by introducing a simple organic molecule and thoroughly explaining its spectrum with specific references to the spectral features from which the structural information can be obtained, i.e., chemical shift, integration and splitting patterns. Although these basic concepts are then extended to additional examples of increasing difficulty, students often remain largely unable to bridge the gap between extracting spectral information and structure determination.

This has spawned a shift towards an active-learning, guided-inquiry approach where instrumentation is integrated directly into the curriculum. Discovery laboratory experiments that incorporate real characterization techniques have been found to encourage students to pursue research and graduate studies. Historically, the limited accessibility of NMR spectrometers and the cost associated with maintaining adequate facilities have largely precluded undergraduate access. Regardless, notable strides have been made to help bridge this disconnect both within lectures and within the laboratory.

Within a laboratory context, as many veteran instructors can attest, simply handing out pre-printed spectra of model compounds does little to remove the mystery associated with NMR spectroscopy. As access to an NMR spectrometer has previously been the limiting factor, strategies have focused on increasing the accessibility of raw data. Web-based spectral libraries have been compiled. Although these databases do allow greater access, and theoretically more practice for students, ultimately this fails to teach both proper sample preparation and the use NMR spectroscopy to assess compound purity. The University of Redlands has addressed these short-comings by providing undergraduate students access to a 400 MHz spectrometer through the use of an autosampler. The mass data is collected by way of automation, in off-peak hours without taxing the time of laboratory instructors or teaching assistants. This batch-type processing trains students in proper sample preparation, but fails to train them adequately on how to collect data. Instead of requiring students to process this raw data on a centralized computer, it could be processed on any PC-based computer by transferring the raw data to cloud storage. This technique was viewed quite favorably; students not only reported increased understanding by examining spectra of their own samples, but they were also able to discuss spectra at a higher level than those who were merely hand model spectra.

Not surprisingly, from these studies it is clear that a more hands-on approach has increased the student’s ability to grasp the concept of NMR spectroscopy. However, the use of online databases and/or autosamplers, fail to provide students with the experience required to adapt to industrial and research settings. Recent advances in cryogen-free permanent rare-earth magnet technologies has introduced a new class of low-field, medium resolution NMR spectrometer that provide an unparalleled opportunity for students to prepare samples and measure their own spectra. Introducing NMReady, a spectrometer that is much more affordable than its super-cooled counterparts, it does not require experienced technicians for maintenance/operation and is even portable.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What are the performance numbers?

The NMReady-60e is a 60 MHz spectrometer with a resolution better than 1.2 Hz and a SNR of 40:1

Do I need to connect the instrument to a laptop?

No, the spectrometer has a built-in touch display/computer from which you can operate the instrument and analyze results.

How do students get results off of the spectrometer?

There are multiple ways of sharing results from the instrument. If the device is not connected to a network, results can be printed locally or copied onto a USB memory stick. If connected to a network results can be uploaded to a shared folder on a LAN or sent to a network printer.

 

What format are the results in?

NMReady stores its results in the standard JCAMP/DX format (also referred to as JDX). This format is easily opened by many popular NMR processing suites including Mnova NMR by Mestrelab Research.

Video on Benchtop High-Resolution NMR Spectroscopy for Teaching and Research
from June 2012 … getting a bit dated

Click on the image below