New nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer to benefit research and education in Maine

To enhance research and education in Maine, the University of Maine Department of Chemistry is acquiring a state-of-the-art, 500 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer with a more than $535,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation and Chemistry Research Instrumentation programs.

Leading the project is UMaine assistant professor of chemistry Matthew Brichacek, with Department of Chemistry colleagues Alice Bruce and William Gramlich; Thomas Schwartz of the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering; and Husson University professor Karl Bishop.

The NMR spectrometer is one of the most powerful tools available for chemists to study the structure of molecules, according to the researchers. It is considered particularly important in the identification of unknown substances, characterization of atoms in molecules, and molecular interactions in solutions or solids.

The technology facilitates research in a variety of fields, including those involving chemical reactions. At UMaine, the spectrometer is expected to be used in a range of research initiatives, including exploration of the metabolism of blue mussels; the characterization of glycans — a family of carbohydrates implicated in disorders that include inflammation, pathogen infection and cancer; and in biofuel and biomass studies.

In addition, having a spectrometer of this field strength impacts educators and scientists at institutions, colleges and industrial partners throughout Maine, the researchers noted in their proposal.