Pursuant to understanding how benchtop NMR is being used in chemical education, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing one of Thermo Scientific picoSpin customers, Dr. Mike Haaf, Ithaca College. The benchtop NMR story is still being written, and it’s the collection of stories like the one below from Dr. Haaf that provide valuable insight and perspective on how benchtop NMR is being utilized in a real-life chemical education setting.
In the case of Ithaca College, the picoSpin NMR is in the early stages of being integrated into the chemistry program and curriculum, but Dr. Haaf’s responses on applications and early discoveries are of great interest and value to those considering future benchtop NMR investments.
Dr. Haaf: We learned about it at the 2012 PittCon meeting in Orlando, and we were immediately excited about the prospect of acquiring this new instrument.
Dr. Haaf: Yes, we do quite a bit of NMR spectroscopy here, and it is heavily integrated in our teaching curriculum, beginning in the first year of our program. NMR theory and practice is emphasized repeatedly throughout our curriculum in various laboratory courses, and we also offer an upper level elective dedicated to the practical interpretation of NMR spectra.
Dr. Haaf: Small footprint and price.
Dr. Haaf: We wanted something that could do NMR spectra on simple organic liquids in our teaching labs. In part, the hope was to show students how to use a simple NMR spectrometer (before graduating to the superconducting NMR). We also hoped that this instrument might help to decrease traffic on our larger instrument, freeing it up for more research students. It has somewhat helped us to achieve these goals, though I think we could find other, more meaningful ways to incorporate the benchtop unit. We had also tried to use the benchtop instrument to monitor a reaction “in flow” by attaching it to a microfluidic reactor. However, we are still exploring how best to approach this problem. We also plan on bringing the instrument right into the classroom for live demonstrations during our units on NMR. This will certainly help to bring the material to life and take some of the mystery out of the process.
Dr. Haaf: It’s a pretty nice instrument, given its size and price. I am hoping the picoSpin instrument will further improve their instruments to give spectra with better peak resolution.
Interview date: May 15, 2014
Access a targeted collection of application notes, case studies, videos, webinars and white papers covering a range of applications for Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, near infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectrophotometry, X-ray fluorescence, and more.