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In this issue

Several weeks ago my colleague, Dr. John Frost informed me of a customer that was using the Thermo Scientific™ picoSpin™ NMR spectrometer for unique and compelling chemistry education applications. I reached out to the customer, Dr. Alex Bloom, assistant professor at Alverno College to learn more. This interview provided fascinating and valuable insights.

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Thermo Scientific™ picoSpin™ benchtop NMR spectrometers, like all modern-day benchtop NMR instruments, hold a steady field by heating a permanent magnet above ambient temperature and stabilizing it to a set point. Inside a picoSpin spectrometer this is consistent to one thousandth of a degree Celsius, i.e. 0.001°C. This precise temperature control is crucial for the instrument to function accurately and precisely, otherwise the Larmor frequency will drift around and acquisition of high-quality data becomes tricky. The temperature set point of a picoSpin spectrometer from the factory is ten or so degrees above an expected ambient temperature, but is user-configurable at installation. After switching on from cold it takes a little time to warm up and stabilize, even though a picoSpin spectrometer has considerably less mass of magnetic material to heat when compared to its counterparts at similar field strengths. Compare that also to a superconducting magnet, which takes a day or more to cool after adding cryogens and then the best part of another day to bring up to field. All analytical equipment is designed to work best in a regular laboratory environment, and the picoSpin spectrometer and other benchtop NMRs are no different. At a laboratory air temperature a few degrees below the set point and not in direct sunlight or in a draught, the picoSpin spectrometer will hum along contentedly for as long as the main electricity supply persists. If an uninterruptable power supply is in-line, either picoSpin model can easily be picked up and carried to a new location while at field, with only a brief shim at the destination before being ready to measure data again.

Recently I was working with my demo picoSpin 80 instrument in a lab and on the Temperature page in the interface, I noticed an interesting pattern of variation in the local temperature, as shown in Figure 1.

Temperature picoSpin 80 temperature page showing magnet temperature, ambient temperature and heater activity with time.

The instrument was set up in an air-conditioned lab with a relatively stable air temperature. That said, the picoSpin spectrometer clearly tracked the times when the air-con was on and when it was off (Ambient graph), and the picoSpin heater was inversely ramped up or down to compensate (Heater graph). It is worth noting that the ambient temperature shown is detected inside the instrument’s case – this is always a bit warmer than the external temperature. The top panel shows the magnet temperature with a variation of approximately 0.0005°C.

0.0005°C! There is a lot of clever engineering in these little machines.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is committed to inspiring the next generation of scientists, so for the last two years, the Molecular Spectroscopy business unit’s NMR technology group has sponsored Overland High School’s NASA-HUNCH (National Aeronautics and Space Administration-High schools United with NASA to Create Hardware Extreme Science) program. The HUNCH program was the subject of an earlier blog post describing the use of the Thermo Scientific™ picoSpin™ NMR spectrometer in a series of successful student lead microgravity experiments investigating the viability of Magnetic Resonance techniques on orbit.

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The Thermo Fisher Scientific Molecular Spectroscopy sales team has been busy hosting our annual ‘S3’ workshops across North America for our current and prospective customers.By the end of May we will have hosted a total of 16 workshops across the nation! During the workshops, the local sales engineer and applications scientists review the basics of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s core Molecular Spectroscopy instrumentation.This spring our workshops have focused on FT-IR, Raman, Benchtop NMR, UV-Visible Spectroscopy, and Material Characterization.

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About NMR Tech Talk

Featuring the latest news, events, and educational approaches in benchtop NMR, Tech Talk is your forum for bringing this interesting and valuable technique into the classroom or as part of your analytical laboratory. Discover what's new from peers and from our experts at Thermo Fisher Scientific. We welcome your comments and contributions. Email us at info.spectroscopy.us@thermofisher.com

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