Grant for attractive research

Chemists in Scotland are part of a UK team that has been awarded funding to buy one of the largest magnets in the world.

The researchers are part of a group awarded £4m by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to set up a new large-scale Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility based at WarwickUniversity.

NMR exploits intense magnetic fields to study the chemical environment of atomic nuclei. It is used by chemists and physicists to investigate the properties of molecules, crystals and polymers. The magnet at the new facility alone will cost £2.5m and will be one of the largest in the world.

Dr Sharon Ashbrook of St AndrewsUniversityand Professor Steve Wimperis of GlasgowUniversity, together with colleagues from Cambridge, Durham, Nottingham and Warwick, will manage the new facility.

They plan to use the new facility to find out where water molecules are trapped inside the minerals that make up the Earth’s mantle and to study how organic molecules move inside the pores of sponge-like solids.

‘This facility will place the UK at the forefront of world-class NMR research,’ said Dr Ashbrook. ‘The magnetic field will be enormously strong. It will allow us to study much smaller quantities of materials than before and perform experiments using magnesium-25 and sulphur-33 isotopes that we have previously considered impossible.’