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Facts at your Fingertips: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

By Scott Jenkins |

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is an analytical chemistry technique used to elucidate molecular structure and help identity unknown compounds. It is a powerful research tool used for quality control, reaction monitoring, purity analysis and other functions. Nuclear spin The properties of subatomic particles give rise to spin, a form of intrinsic angular momentum that can be represented by imagining the particles as tiny spheres spinning on their axes. Although nuclei don’t actually spin, the concept can help explain the principles underlying NMR. In atoms where the total number of neutrons or protons is an odd number, the nuclei possess an overall spin. For example, 12C has a spin of 0, while the isotope 13C (6 protons, 7 neutrons), has nonzero spin. NMR spectroscopy only detects nuclei with nonzero spin. Examples include the following: 13C, 1H, 15N, 19F, and 31P. Magnetic fields Behaving as spinning charged particles, each NMR-active nuclei generates its own magnetic field, which is oriented in a particular direction. Normally, the magnetic moments generated by a sample are oriented randomly in all possible directions. But in an externally applied magnetic field, the nuclei align their magnetic fields with the…
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