Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Improvement

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is an information-dense analytical technique used for characterizing materials by quantifying and determining molecular structure. A standing challenge is current NMR methodology is primarily limited to single sample measurements under low-throughput conditions. There is therefore a disconnect between applications requiring screening of large parameter spaces, and the desire to take advantage of this information-rich technique.

This study presents a novel approach combining microfluidic technologies with micro-NMR detectors to realize fully automated high-throughput nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy with high mass sensitivity. A scalable, NMR compatible, low power, and cost-effective microfluidic system is developed that has a micro-saddle NMR detector rolled around a glass capillary flanked by two integrated impedance sensors for sample position and velocity measurement.

The system operates by loading plugs of target samples separated by an immiscible fluid into a flexible microfluidic tube. This train of samples is kept under flow and fed through the capillary with the micro detector and sensors. The impedance sensors detect the interface between aqueous and oil plugs, which a microcontroller then uses to synchronize the NMR spectroscopy acquisition regardless of the flow velocities and sample volume.

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