Journal of magnetic resonance (San Diego, Calif. : 1997)

Sensitive and robust electrophoretic NMR: instrumentation and experiments.

PMID 18289894


Although simple as a concept, electrophoretic NMR (eNMR) has so far failed to find wider application. Problems encountered are mainly due to disturbing and partly irreproducible convection-like bulk flow effects from both electro-osmosis and thermal convection. Additionally, bubble formation at the electrodes and rf noise pickup has constrained the typical sample geometry to U-tube-like arrangements with a small filling factor and a low resulting NMR sensitivity. Furthermore, the sign of the electrophoretic mobility cancels out in U-tube geometries. We present here a new electrophoretic sample cell based on a vertically placed conventional NMR sample tube with bubble-suppressing palladium metal as electrode material. A suitable radiofrequency filter design prevents noise pickup by the NMR sample coil from the high-voltage leads which extend into the sensitive sample volume. Hence, the obtained signal-to-noise ratio of this cell is one order of magnitude higher than that of our previous U-tube cells. Permitted by the retention of the sign of the displacement-related signal phase in the new cell design, an experimental approach is described where bulk flow effects by electro-osmosis and/or thermal convection are compensated through parallel monitoring of a reference signal from a non-charged species in the sample. This approach, together with a CPMG-like pulse train scheme provides a superior first-order cancellation of non-electrophoretic bulk flow effects.