Hi Romain and Lars. The project is about studying water in a very unusual way. Please tell us more.
NMR-Lev will apply, for the first time, the analytical power of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy to a perfectly immobile, and self-standing droplet, thanks to the latest breakthrough in acoustic levitation. It will allow resolving, in detail, processes taking place in single droplet, free of any interaction with a disturbing surface, in terms of structure and chemistry, as function of time.
The challenge is to fit a device that enables levitation into a high field magnet. To reach this objective, the project will focus on adapting a miniaturized acoustic levitation device inside a high-field magnet and on developing compatible NMR methodologies.
How important is the grant?
The grant is 8MSEK and will cover the project cost for 3 years.
For a long time, NMR has occupied a central position in the analytical arsenal, both on the academic and on the industrial side. However, and despite major innovations such as the capacity of imaging, the way of introducing the samples in the magnet has nearly not changed and still remains archaic. NMR-Lev will add a new dimension by allowing the introduction of a container-less sample in the high field magnet, thus opening for new NMR optimization and studying advance processes in real time while avoiding the negative impact of the presence of a container.
What will you use it for?
With the implementation of this technique we will be able to study, for instance, the drying processes of a single component system while monitoring water mass transport, the in-situ gelling of droplets, or the
mechanism of protein crystallization in an individual confinement. This technique development of acoustic levitation implemented in NMR will directly benefit a variety of industrially relevant research in materials science, industrial processing, life science, and medical technology. During the preparation of the proposal, we have received a very important support from industrial partners such AstraZeneca or Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals),
What are your hopes about future applications of your research?
We believe that integrating industrial partners from the beginning is the key to efficient implementation. In addition, benchmarking the methodology with concrete case studies will enable reaching other areas where the project results find application. We have already identified four major industrial areas of potential use, which are food science, pharmaceutics, materials science and biotechnology. For these industries NMR is already an integrated tool and implementing NMR-Lev will enable keeping their position at the forefront of development. Science of droplet finds application well beyond the chemical industry, and other fields of research could be envisioned such as atmospheric and aerosol science.