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Low-field NMR Spectroscopy

Since 2012, we have been working on the development of low-field (60MHz) NMR spectroscopy for rapid compositional analysis.  This work is carried out in tandem with Oxford Instruments, and supported by an InnovateUK industry-academia collaborative research grant.

NMR spectroscopy is a powerful technique for measuring subtle chemical changes. However, until recently, the exploitation of this chemical sensitivity in industrial settings has been hampered by the high costs of buying and maintaining a spectrometer, and the necessity for highly trained, specialist staff. The issue of cost has been addressed by Oxford Instruments with the recent launch of their new low-field, bench-top spectrometer, the Pulsar. However, the data processing and reporting steps also need to be simple, robust and automated, and this has been the role of the Analytical Sciences team.

To date, we have targeted selected quality assurance issues, primarily in the food sector. Key outputs from the project include:

  • A method for distinguishing between olive and hazelnut oils. Reported in an open access paper (Parker et al, 2014: doi.org/10.1016/j.trac.2014.02.006)
  • A novel method for rapid speciation of meat via lipid fraction profiling (patent pending: British Patent Application 1315962.9)
  • A detailed study of the NMR speciation method applied to raw beef and horsemeat. Reported in an Open Access paper (Jakes et al, 2015: doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.11.110 ). Also see a press release and video showing the method in action.
  • A book chapter giving an overview of analysis of triglycerides by low-field NMR, and the range of applications addressed on the project.