NMR of Insensitive Nuclei Enhanced by Dynamic Nuclear Polarization
Despite the powerful spectroscopic information it provides, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy suffers from a lack of sensitivity, especially when dealing with nuclei other than protons. Even though NMR can be applied in a straightforward manner when dealing with abundant protons of organic molecules, it is very challenging to address biomolecules in low concentration and/or many other nuclei of the periodic table that do not provide as intense signals as protons. Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) is an important technique that provides a way to dramatically increase signal intensities in NMR. It consists in transferring the very high electron spin polarization of paramagnetic centers (usually at low temperature) to the surrounding nuclear spins with appropriate microwave irradiation. DNP can lead to an enhancement of the nuclear spin polarization by up to four orders of magnitude. We present in this article some basic concepts of DNP, describe the DNP apparatus at EPFL, and illustrate the interest of the technique for chemical applications by reporting recent measurements of the kinetics of complexation of Y-89 by the DOTAM ligand.