A collaborative effort by researchers in Japan has yielded an NMR system equipped with the world’s highest magnetic field*, 1020 MHz. The study, published in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance, also included real measurements taken with the new system, which suggested heightened performance in terms of resolution and sensitivity when compared to existing NMR systems.
Used extensively in biomedical research, NMR systems can be applied to various tasks, such as 3D conformational analysis of biopolymers and investigating protein structures. It is a fundamental tool in drug development, and so improving NMR system performance is a key area of research for many scientists. As magnetic field strength is frequently used as a key indicator of the performance of the system, several of these scientists have been in competition to create NMR systems with magnetic fields greater than 1000 MHz.
It was believed at one point that high-temperature superconducting technology could be used to produce this size of magnetic field. But due to the fragility and difficulty in handling high-temperature superconductors, previously no research team was able to use these for an extended period.
The current work is the result of a collaboration between researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science, RIKEN, Kobe Steel and JEOL RESONANCE (all Japan), and was additionally supported by the Japan Science and Technology Agency–Development of Systems and Technology for Advances Measurement and Analysis program. The team developed new technology to achieve the magnetic field, including converting the high-temperature superconductor developed by the National Institute for Materials Science in 1988 into a wire material form.
The researchers believe that this magnetic field strength will make a significant contribution to various disciplines, such as analytical chemistry, structural biology and materials engineering.
*World’s highest magnetic field: 1020MHz (24.0T), as of 17th April 2015.
Sources: Hashi K, Ohki S, Matsumoto S et al. Achievement of 1020 MHz NMR. J. Magn. Reson. 256, 30–33 (2015); World’s Highest Magnetic Field (1,020MHz) NMR developed.