NMR - a non-invasive technique
The development of molecular sciences for materials, food and health
critically depends on comprehensive and non-invasive specimen characterization. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is one of the most widely applied analytical methods and has found abundant application in biology, medicine and materials research. The versatility to characterize equally well all kinds of materials, biomolecules, processes and living organisms makes NMR spectroscopy an indispensable tool in the search for solutions for major problems that our society faces.
Consortium of five Universities
To address these challenges, the five major Dutch centers for magnetic resonance research in structural biology, materials and metabolic mapping as well as imaging techniques, together with the public private partnership for analytical chemistry TI-COAST, joined forces in a national consortium in 2011. This concerted effort centered around the implementation of a national ultrahigh-field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility (uNMR-NL) that aims at providing open access to a new generation of NMR instruments operating at highest existing field strength across scientific disciplines and Industrial research. As an important step in this direction, the uNMR-NL consortium received funding in the 2011 call for the NWO National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures to place the first 1.2 GHz NMR in the Netherlands.
950 MHz spectrometer operational
While preparing for the installation of this 1.2 GHz giant, the consortium initiated the formation of the uNMR-NL facility with the installation of a 950 MHz machine that has been operational since November 2015. Several research projects ranging from structural biology to (bio)materials and imaging are currently running on this high-end spectrometer. Interested users can apply for measurement time through submission of a project proposal on the uNMR-NL 950 website. In parallel, the consortium acquired successfully an NWO Graduate Programme project (NMARRS ), to educate scientists in magnetic resonance based research. Researchers receive expert training and are directly involved in cutting-edge research projects at the uNMR-NL facility. The next stage of the original ROADMAP application, the installation of the 1.2 GHz equipment is currently in development and installation of this system is expected in 2019.
Distributed NMR facility and connections with other facilities
The uNMR-NL facility consists of a grid infrastructure with a central high-end facility in Utrecht and is surrounded by nodes for specialized technologies. Important components within the national facility are a paramagnetic bioNMR center in Leiden, a metabolic profiling and micro-imaging centre for plant, food and bionanotechnology in Wageningen, a solid-state NMR facility for advanced material science in Nijmegen. In addition, an important uNMR-NL goal is to coordinate future instrument upgrades and maintenance on
the national level. The paramagnetic bioNMR and the solid-state NMR facility for materials science have been realized based on NWO-Groot grants in 2012 and 2007, respectively. The uNMR-NL consortium has recently also been integrated in local, national and European networks of enabling technology facilities for the life sciences. In addition, TI-COAST maintains an overview of unique and rare high-end instrumentation and expertise available under its participants. The wide variety of techniques available in the community
strongly increases the analytical problem-solving capability in and beyond the life sciences.