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NSF grant provides spectrometer for ECU chemists

(Aug. 30, 2001)   —   Some high tech machinery installed in a chemistry laboratory at East Carolina University will bring scientists and students to the forefront of research in the field of molecular mechanics.
A grant from the National Science Foundation has enabled the Department of Chemistry to buy two state-of-the-art Varian nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers at a cost of about $500,000. One of the instruments operates at 300 MHz and the other at 500 MHz. The faster unit is the only one of its kind in the region.
Dr. Art Rodriguez, director of the Chemistry NMR facilities, said the 300 MHz instrument will be used for both teaching and research while the 500 MHz machine, which requires special training for operators, will be used strictly for research.
The basic principle of operation behind the chemistry nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers is similar to that of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment used in medical diagnosis. Both instruments have extremely broad capabilities including the ability to detect a variety of nuclei including hydrogen, carbon, fluorine, phosphorous, silicon, oxygen and many others.
Rodriguez said chemistry faculty and students would use the spectrometers to study the 3D structures and molecular dynamics of complex molecules, including polymers, proteins, enzymes and other interesting biomolecules.
"With these two spectrometers, the chemistry department faculty can now do research at the forefront of molecular mechanics and structure determination," he said.