High-Resolution Microcoil 1H-NMR for Mass-Limited, Nanoliter-Volume Samples

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Science  22 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5244, pp. 1967-1970
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5244.1967


High-resolution, proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of 5-nanoliter samples have been obtained with much higher mass sensitivity [signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) per micromole] than with traditional methods. Arginine and sucrose show a mean sensitivity enhancement of 130 compared to 278-microliter samples run in a 5-millimeter tube in a conventional, commercial probe. This can reduce data acquisition time by a factor of >16,000 or reduce the needed sample mass by a factor of about 130. A linewidth of 0.6 hertz was achieved on a 300-megahertz spectrometer by matching the magnetic susceptibility of the medium that surrounds the detection cell to that of the copper coil. For sucrose, the limit of detection (defined at S/N = 3) was 19 nanograms (56 picomoles) for a 1-minute data acquisition. This technique should prove useful with mass-limited samples and for use as a detector in capillary separations.