A powerful magnet developed for chemical, biological and materials research was lifted by a crane into DOE Office of Science's William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory
The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory celebrated the arrival of the world's largest, highest-performance nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer—a first-of-its-kind 900 megahertz (MHz) wide-bore system developed by Oxford Instruments and Varian Inc.
April 15, 2002—The 900 MHz wide-bore nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, delivered to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on March 13, 2002, is a powerful scientific instrument that may enable scientists to make new discoveries in the chemical, physical, biological and life sciences. When operational, this unique system could enhance understanding of basic molecular and cellular processes and how those relate to damage or repair to DNA, disease development and protein interactions.
NMR spectrometers are similar to the magnetic resonance imagers commonly used in hospitals yet use much stronger magnetic fields and are able to study much smaller samples than the human body. NMR spectrometers allow scientists to determine the three-dimensional structure of molecules, viewing them atom-by-atom to obtain detailed structural pictures of complex proteins. These proteins may be associated with debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
"This spectrometer will be a state-of-the-art instrument that should enable us to gain new insight into biological phenomena and deliver breakthrough science and technology," according to PNNL Director Lura Powell.
Installation of the system will complete the suite of advanced instrumentation housed in the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE scientific user facility at PNNL. As a user instrument, the 900 MHz NMR will be available to other scientists through a competitive proposal process.
"We're proud to make this novel tool available to the worldwide scientific community. We want to share our capabilities so other scientists can make new discoveries important to us all," Powell said. "We appreciate the sustained effort by Oxford and Varian in making this possible."
Over the last several years, Oxford Instruments of Oxford, England, constructed the 900 MHz wide-bore magnet, which was energized in England this past December. The magnet was delivered to PNNL on March 10 and lifted by crane into EMSL on March 13. Varian Inc. of Palo Alto, California, provided the rest of the NMR system, including the electronics, console, detectors, software and workstation. Both companies now will integrate and install the system, energize the magnet—called "bringing it to field"—and evaluate the system's performance over the next few months. The first studies using the instrument are expected to begin late this summer.
Over the past 40 years, scientists have used NMR technology to advance their understanding of chemistry and molecular structure. The laboratory's 900 MHz wide-bore system is part of a global shift toward development of larger and more powerful NMRs. Greater power provides the opportunity to study larger molecules individually and in group interactions in greater detail. When PNNL ordered the 900 MHz wide-bore system, the most powerful NMR in existence was 600 MHz. With its larger bore size and power, PNNL's new system will allow scientists to study molecules and cells at greater resolution, thereby facilitating more detailed views of a cell's physical and chemical properties and innerworkings.
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Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory is a DOE research facility and delivers
breakthrough science and technology in the areas
of environment, energy, health, fundamental sciences
and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus,
Ohio, has operated the laboratory for DOE since
Instruments, Superconductivity is a global leader
of high-field superconducting magnets and low-temperature
cryogenic systems. Over 5,000 Oxford Instruments
magnets are advancing NMR research applications
worldwide. The company is committed to quality and
innovation and won the prestigious R&D 100 award
for the engineering and unique design for the manufacture
of the world's first fully operational high-field
900 MHz magnet. Its customers are leading research
institutes worldwide who are fully supported by
a first-class customer support team for installation,
maintenance and service.
is a major supplier of scientific instruments, vacuum
technologies and specialized contract manufacturing
services. These businesses serve life science, health
care, chemical analysis, industrial and electronics
customers worldwide. The company manufactures in
15 locations in North America, Europe and the Pacific
Rim and employs some 4,100 people. Varian Inc. had
fiscal year 2001 sales of $749 million.
Auhor: Staci Maloof is a science
writer and media relations specialist for the Pacific
Northwest National Laboratory, based in Richland,
Washington. She is a former newspaper journalist
and a member of the National Association of Science
Writers (NASW). See PNNL News
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