Extensive ERC funding for development of an ultrafast NMR method

A group headed by Academy Research Fellow Ville-Veikko Telkki at the University of Oulu, has been granted considerable funding of EUR 2.6 million over five-years for the development of the completely new ultra-fast multidimensional NMR method.

The research project for an Ultrafast Laplace NMR, is to receive ERC funding. It aims at achieving a completely new method of NMR spectroscopy, the development of ultrafast multidimensional Laplace NMR, which is very unusual in the field of established scientific methods.

The method offers groundbreaking possibilities for chemical, biochemical, geological, archaeological, and medical analysis. It allows, for example, the study of the dynamics of cancer cell metabolism in real time, which is very important for the understanding of the development of cancer from the point of view of finding treatment and diagnosis. The method can also reveal completely new information on the structure and characteristics of ionic liquids, gels, polymers, catalysts, and proteins - and it can be utilised in the development of biosensors.

The method is also applicable to low-field NMR sensors which are much less expensive than high field devices, and are easy to move.  Their geometry also allows the study of samples of all sizes. The ultra-fast NMR combined with the use of hyperpolarised substances increases the sensitivity and resolution of low-field devices to previously unseen levels. This means significant possibilities for low-cost mobile chemical and medical analysis. The method can be applied in procedures such as the setting of drilling diagrams in the oil and mining industries, in the study of cultural heritage sites, in the diagnosis of skin and breast cancer, and in forensic medicine.  Thanks to the low price of the low-field equipment, a high-quality NMR analysis will become widely available, even in the developing countries.

The ultrafast Laplace NMR method is based on the spatial coding of multidimensional information, making it possible to read it with one measurement. This reduces the duration of the experiments to a fraction of what it was before, while opening unprecedented possibilities for the study of fast processes in real time.  In addition, the method makes it possible to multiply the sensitivity of the experiments, thus allowing the study of samples with a low concentration.

Nuclear magnetic resonance, or NMR spectroscopy, is one of the most versatile methods of chemical analysis. Traditional NMR spectroscopy is based on the rich chemical information contained in spectra.

The Laplace NMR, which comprises diffusion and relaxation measurements, meanwhile, reveals detailed information on the movement of molecules, and with its help it is possible to observe the different kinds of physical or chemical environments of the molecules, even if they would not be visible in the spectra.  As is the case with traditional NMR spectroscopy, Laplace NMR resolution and information content can be improved through the use of multidimensional experiments. However, these experiments are very time-consuming, and consequently, they are not suitable for the study of fast processes.

NMR Research Group of the University of Oulu

Last updated: 10.4.2018