Chemists ‘attract’ grant for £2m magnet

Wednesday 31 October 2007

Chemists at the Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow are part of a UK team that has been awarded multi-million pound funding to buy one of the largest magnets in the world.

The researchers are part of a group awarded £4M by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to set up a new large-scale Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility based at the University of Warwick.

NMR is a phenomenon that exploits intense magnetic fields to study the chemical environment of atomic nuclei.  It is used by chemists and physicists to investigate the properties of molecules, crystals and polymers.  The magnet at the new facility alone will cost £2.5M and will be one of the largest in the world.

Dr Sharon Ashbrook of the University of St Andrews and Professor Steve Wimperis of the University of Glasgow, together with colleagues from Cambridge, Durham, Nottingham and Warwick, will manage the new facility.

They plan to use the new facility to find out where water molecules are trapped inside the unusual minerals that make up the Earth’s mantle and to study how organic molecules move inside the pores of sponge-like solids.  The research could help in the design of new catalysts for the petrochemical industry.

Dr Ashbrook, of the School of Chemistry at St Andrews and EaStCHEM, said: “This facility will place the UK at the forefront of world-class NMR research.  The magnetic field will be enormously strong.  It will allow us to study much smaller quantities of materials than before and perform experiments using magnesium-25 and sulphur-33 isotopes that we have previously considered impossible.”

Professor Wimperis, University of Glasgow said: “It’s great to see two Scottish universities at the heart of this exciting project, which will give the UK’s world-class NMR researchers access to world-class equipment.”



For further information contact Dr Sharon Ashbrook, email: [email protected], Tel: 01334 463779




The full research team awarded the grant are led by Principal Investigator Dr. Steven P. Brown, Associate Professor at the University of Warwick along with University of Warwick Professors Mark Smith and Ray Dupree.

Co-applicants are from Cambridge (Dr Melinda Duer), Durham (Professor Robin Harris), Glasgow (Professor Stephen Wimperis), Nottingham (Dr Jeremy Titman), and St Andrews (Dr Sharon Ashbrook).

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]
Ref:  Magnetic funding 311007
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