Fostering a fundamental understanding of NMR in undergraduate laboratory courses

NMR spectroscopy is a tool that many undergraduate students are able to use for routine measurements, but they frequently have little understanding of the fundamental principles that govern these instruments. This may preclude students from realizing the full potential of NMR spectroscopy in their future careers. The costs associated with the large research grade instruments typical of most universities prevent students from being able to spend the time necessary to explore these instruments and understand the intricacies of how they work. Students typically graduate understanding little more than how to interpret basic NMR spectra. Building on the information gathered at the Center for Workshops in the Chemical Sciences NMR course and using a low cost 19MHz desktop NMR we designed a laboratory module for our senior level instrumental course. This laboratory provides students with a hands-on opportunity to study many of the fundamentals of nuclear magnetic resonance. Gyro-magnetic ratios, quantum spin states, and their distributions are just some of the measurements that can be made. Understanding these fundamental measurements and how they are acquired may help students realize the full potential of NMR.
John A. Frost, Bradley M. Moran
Author Affiliation: 
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee Wisconsin United States