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Berkeley Lab researchers apply NMR/MRI to microfluidic chromatography
Date:8/14/2011

. These awards, known as the "Oscars of Innovation," recognize the year's 100 most significant proven technological advances. Through a combination of remote instrumentation, JPEG-style image compression algorithms and other key enhancements, this remote NMR/MRI technology can zoom in on microscopic objects of interest within a sample flowing through the columns of a microfluidic chip with unprecedented spatial and time resolutions.

"Our remote NMR/MRI technology enables time-resolved imaging of multi-channel flow, dispenses with the need for large and expensive magnets for analysis, allows us to analyze complex and unprocessed mixtures in one pass, and adds portability to NMR/MRI," Bajaj says.

The key to the success of remote NMR/MRI technology is the decoupling of the NMR/MRI signal encoding and detection phases. NMR/MRI signals arise from a property found in the atomic nuclei of almost all molecules called "spin," which makes the nuclei act as if they were bar magnets with poles that point either "north" or "south." Obtaining an NMR/MRI signal from a sample depends upon an excess of nuclear spins pointing in one direction or the other. In a conventional NMR/MRI set-up, in which the signal encoding and detection phases take place within one machine, this require the presence of a powerful external magnetic field. The remote NMR/MRI technology developed by Pines and his group, in which NMR?MRI signal encoding and detection are carried out independently, can detect NMR/MRI signals without the need of such a strong magnet, yet it still provides the same outstanding sensitivity of conventional NMR/MRI.

"With our remote NMR/MRI technology and the polymer monoliths of Frank Svec's group, we were able to look inside optically opaque microfluidic columns and measure the velocity of the flowing fluid during a chromatographic separation," Bajaj says. "We were also able to demonstrate in-line monitoring of chromatographic separations of small m
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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