Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR)

NMR spectroscopy is widely used to confirm the identity of a substance in organic chemistry and often highly predictable for small molecules.

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Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR)

Description

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, most commonly known as NMR spectroscopy, is a research technique that exploits the magnetic properties of certain atomic nuclei. This type of spectroscopy determines the physical and chemical properties of atoms or the molecules in which they are contained. It relies on the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance and can provide detailed information about the structure, dynamics, reaction state, and chemical environment of molecules. The intramolecular magnetic field around an atom in a molecule changes the resonance frequency, thus giving access to details of the electronic structure of a molecule and its individual functional groups.

 

Most frequently, NMR spectroscopy is used by chemists and biochemists to investigate the properties of organic molecules, although it is applicable to any kind of sample that contains nuclei possessing spin. Suitable samples range from small compounds analyzed with 1-dimensional proton or carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy to large proteins or nucleic acids using 3 or 4-dimensional techniques. The impact of NMR spectroscopy on the sciences has been substantial because of the range of information and the diversity of samples, including solutions and solids.

 

NMR spectra are unique, well-resolved, analytically tractable and often highly predictable for small molecules. Thus, in organic chemistry practice, NMR analysis is used to confirm the identity of a substance. Different functional groups are obviously distinguishable, and identical functional groups with differing neighboring substituents still give distinguishable signals. NMR has largely replaced traditional wet chemistry tests such as color reagents or typical chromatography for identification. A disadvantage is that a relatively large amount, 2–50 mg, of a purified substance is required, although it may be recovered through a workup. Preferably, the sample should be dissolved in a solvent, because NMR analysis of solids requires a dedicated MAS machine and may not give equally well-resolved spectra. The timescale of NMR is relatively long, and thus it is not suitable for observing fast phenomena, producing only an averaged spectrum. Although large amounts of impurities do show on an NMR spectrum, better methods exist for detecting impurities, as NMR is inherently not very sensitive – though at higher frequencies, sensitivity narrows.

More Information

Wikipedia: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

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