Chemistry department acquires powerful new instrument

The chemistry faculty are celebrating the installation of a powerful new instrument that will allow researchers to study the chemical structure of molecules. The new 400 MHz NMR Spectrometer will be used to study physical, chemical, and biological properties of matter and has applications in many areas of science.

The molecules under study are placed in a high magnetic field and exposed to pulses of radio waves.  Specific atomic nuclei then absorb and re-emit radio waves at specific frequencies  The frequency emitted depends upon the electronic environment of each atom and allows scientists to know how the atoms are connected together within the molecule.   

The main component of the instrument is a superconducting magnet that is cooled to a bone chilling temperature of 4.2 K (-269 ºC), which is just above the temperature of deep space.

Students in chemistry laboratories will gain valuable hands-on experience with a powerful, high-tech instrument that previously was not available to them.  In addition to use in the teaching labs, the instrument will be used by Nicholls State University faculty and students to study the structures of synthesized molecules, such as biomedical polymers and organic solar cells.  Other research will involve studying the structure of catalysts for the synthesis of stereo-specific antitumor drugs and in the identification of the microbial metabolites of pesticides, petroleum hydrocarbons and explosives in the environment.  The chemistry degree at Nicholls is accredited by the American Chemical Society and opens the door for many careers in industry and teaching, as well as graduate and professional schools.  Acquisition of this special instrument is important for this accreditation.The instrument was purchased with assistance from the Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund and Nicholls State University.

A student analyzes a sample on the new NMR.
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