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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R030065/1
Title: A National Network for Applications of High-Field NMR in the Life and Physical Sciences
Principal Investigator: Uhrin, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Barlow, Professor PN Philp, Professor D Jaspars, Professor M
Robertson, Professor D Bramham, Dr J Schwarz-Linek, Dr U
Parkinson, Dr JA Bell, Dr NGA Ashbrook, Professor SEM
Smith, Dr BO
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 May 2018 Ends: 30 April 2021 Value (£): 1,368,030
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Chemical Biology
Materials Characterisation Protein chemistry
Soil science Structural biology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Nov 2017 High-Field NMR for Physical and Life Sciences Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a very powerful technique used in many fields of physical and life sciences, including all branches of chemistry, material sciences and biology. It provides wealth of information about (bio)molecules in solution and materials and insoluble molecules in solid state.

Increasing the operating frequency of NMR spectrometers leads to higher sensitivity and resolution. Both are required when working with small (tens of micrograms) amounts of sample, or with large biomacromolecules (proteins, DNA, carbohydrates). Similarly, and especially for some nuclei, solid- state NMR accrues additional benefits at higher frequencies. There are therefore instances where only high-field spectrometers can solve a particular problem.

However, very-high field and ultra-high field spectrometers come at a cost, largely associated with the development and production of their superconducting magnets. It is therefore imperative that such instrumentation is used efficiently through sharing by many research groups. Modern NMR spectrometers are versatile pieces of equipment that can be customised to tackle a range of samples, so sharing across disciplines and applications (e.g. liquid- vs solid-state) is possible.

Spectroscopists from across the UK working in a wide-range of scientific disciplines have therefore agreed to work towards a coordinated strategy for sharing very-high and ultra-high field NMR equipment to underpin fundamental and applied sciences in a wide range of areas, ranging from battery and solar panel research, enzyme catalysis, drug discovery, food security, understanding disease or characterisation of environmental matrices. By sharing technologically advanced methodologies, the impact on the UK society will be maximised, both in the academia and industry, thus contributing to the UK economic viability and overall well-being.

As part of this strategy, Scottish NMR researchers representing all Scottish universities and the CRUK Beatson Institute, have decided to establish Scottish High Field (SHF) NMR Centre around the upgraded 800 MHz NMR spectrometer housed in the SoC at UoE.

This upgrade will equip the spectrometer with up-to-date NMR capabilities for liquid- and solid-state experiments. This involves installation of two CryoProbes, MAS controller, high power 1H amplifier and three solid-state probes in Year 1, followed by the upgrade of the console in Year 3 to guarantee continued operation of the Centre beyond the duration of the grant.

Equipping this spectrometer with the latest technology and utilising the existing magnet is the most economical option that will fulfil our aim: to provide cutting edge support in liquid- and solid-state NMR to physical and life sciences researchers to deliver significant academic and industrial impact.

The measurement time on this upgraded 800-MHz liquids/solid-state NMR spectrometer will be shared between researchers from all Scottish universities, CRUK Beatson Institute and UoE researchers. Sustained operation of the Centre will be guaranteed by the financial support of participating institutions and umbrella organisations of life and chemical sciences in Scotland, SULSA and ScotCHEM. Importantly, the Centre will be operated by staff from all participating institutions.

Using the Centre as the focal point, a hub and spoke model will be used to manage access to the mid- to high-magnetic field NMR spectrometers in Scotland. This will optimise access to NMR equipment and facilitate access to ultra-high field spectrometers in England, foster day-to-day cooperation, ensure exchange of information and dissemination of best practise.

The SHF NMR Centre will transform the way high-field NMR is applied to chemistry, biology, environmental and material sciences in academia and industry. It will form a platform for interactions with other regional and national very-high field and ultra-high field UK NMR centres.

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