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Application Notes - Magnetic Resonance

Application Lab Tour Bruker Fällanden

Aitor Moreno, Manager of Application Science, Bruker BioSpin, presents our NMR demonstration center based in Fällanden, Switzerland

The core of the building is the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) demonstration laboratory, equipped with a range of NMR spectrometers. When we were planning the building, we took the opportunity to design a room optimized for the operation of NMR spectrometers, which showcases our instruments to our customers and at the same time provides a good workspace for our employees.

NMR is a powerful technology, but it is sensitive to external disturbances like floor vibrations, electromagnetic field fluctuations and temperature changes. To address these challenges, we created a ‘house within a house’ solution to protect our spectrometers. The instruments are completely decoupled from the other parts of the building, standing on a 60cm thick concrete floor on a solid foundation. In addition, potential sources of disturbances like air conditioning and compressors are located as far away as possible on the upper floors.
Inside the NMR lab, we achieve excellent temperature stability because the concrete floors act as active cooling and heating components. Furthermore, the air turbulences are minimized by diffuser units placed across the room.

Another positive effect of the ‘house within a house’ solution is the acoustic decoupling between the operator desks and the spectrometers. This allows for quiet working conditions for the operators and protection on the other side of the magnets from noise.

Our NMR spectrometers are used to analyze samples that customers bring to us. These demo samples can span a large variety of applications from small molecules and natural products, to polymers and proteins. To support our customers in these various fields, we have a team of application scientists who are specialists in different areas.

Our team of application scientists use the demo center computers to control spectrometers and perform measurements to help develop new spectroscopic methods. The team works closely with R&D on new hardware and software development. A significant part of their work is customer support, which is carried out at local level. The team can connect remotely to link up to spectrometer computers located across the globe, and support our customers through live training, demos, and troubleshooting.

We have eight NMR spectrometers ranging from 80 MHz proton frequency up to 800 MHz here in our demo lab, which allow us to cover a broad range of applications. For a given application, we must choose the appropriate probe. For example, we use a double resonance or triple resonance room temperature probe for the analysis of semisolid or solid samples.

The NMR application team uses the magic-angle spinning (MAS) probe, which is a well-established technique, to improve the resolution of solid and semi solid samples. For example, they can study catalyst polymers, proteins or tissues and pharmaceutical preparations like tablets and gels.

Cryoprobes and high-field instruments are needed to achieve the best performance when it comes to sensitivity, but the key to obtaining the best performance is to select the appropriate hardware and software solution for the specific application. The application lab team helps our customers to choose the magnets, probes, and all the accessories and software best suited to them.

Our NMR application team prepares demo samples provided by our customers, which requires a stock of about 400 chemicals. This variety of chemicals allows the team to prepare samples under different conditions, such as varying solvent, functional group, and concentrations to showcase different software and hardware performance. They usually work with small quantities and deuterated solvents, making it one of the very few labs that has more deuterated than non-deuterated solvents in stock.

The Sales and Technical Support team is also based in the demo center, to enable close collaboration with the laboratory team to address and solve customer needs. Teamwork is at the heart of our business. The input from our application colleagues and most importantly, from our customers, helps us design software suited to their needs. Our software developers create software for the acquisition, processing, and analysis of NMR spectrometers. Our main goal is to simplify the use of NMR as an analytical method. For this, they use classical machine learning algorithms and collaborate closely with universities.

We have a diverse team of physicists, chemists, data scientists and software engineers which enables us to deal with the complex requirements of NMR and support the highly varied needs of our customers.