When Charles S. Johnson and his colleagues designed an experiment that standard nuclear magnetic resonance equipment couldn't handle, they decided to build a unit that could. The result: an electrophoretic NMR, a device that combines electrophoresis (a method of separating and identifying large molecules) and high-resolution NMR (a means of performing chemical analyses). "We're doing NMR in the presence of a large electric field," explains Johnson, Smith Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The electric field causes molecules to move at different velocities through an aqueous solution or gel, depending on the molecule's size and electrical charge. This process can help spread out overlapping NMR spectra. The novel components, which, according to Johnson, wouldn't cost companies much to develop, could be incorporated easily into commercially available machines. At present, Johnson and his collaborators are using ENMR to investigate the use of vesicles - artificial, hollow,...

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