Long-Lived Coherences for Homogeneous Line Narrowing in Spectroscopy
Line broadening, which can arise from inhomogeneities or homogeneous relaxation effects that lead to finite lifetimes of quantum states, is the Achilles' heel of many forms of spectroscopy. We show that line broadening may be considerably reduced by exploiting long lifetimes associated with superpositions of quantum states with different symmetry, termed long-lived coherences. In proton NMR of arbitrary molecules (including proteins) in isotropic solution, the slow oscillatory decays of long-lived coherences can yield spectra with very high resolution. This improvement opens the way to high-field magnetic resonance of molecular assemblies that are almost an order of magnitude larger than could be hitherto studied. Coherences between states of different symmetry may be useful in other forms of spectroscopy to cancel unwanted line broadening effects.