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NMR Innovation: A Manufacturer’s Perspective on Analytical Advances and New Applications

Looking back, NMR spectroscopy has been in use as a research tool and under constant development for almost 80 years. Some principles of magnetic resonance were initially described by Isidor Isaac Rabi of Columbia University in 1938. With further fundamental research being done in the late 1930s and early ’40s, the official birth of the technique is generally accepted to have been in 1946 and is attributed to Edward M. Purcell and Felix Bloch. Both were honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1952 for the discovery of NMR spectroscopy. Dr. Ray Freeman, one of the pioneers of NMR applications technology, has created a resource for further reading on the history of both the science and development of NMR technology.1

The technique has undergone significant developments in hardware, probe design, and software since that time—developments that have unlocked new applications. It has proven to be particularly beneficial in many of the applied industry sectors where it is now an established part of the analyst’s toolbox (pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, food, environmental, polymer science, and proteomics, for example). A core reason for its success in these markets is that NMR offers unparalleled breadth of information about the sample, including detailed structural information. Moreover, it provides straightforward method development, allows rapid throughput without loss of the sample, and, importantly, is a direct quantitative method with no requirement for response factors or calibration curves.

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