The Faculty of Arts and Science Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility at the University of Lethbridge houses the following NMR and EPR spectrometers, x-ray diffractometer, computational cluster, and cryogenic facilities:
- 300 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer
- 500 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer
- 700 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer
- Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) spectrometer
- Solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) computational cluster
- Rigaku-Oxford SuperNova Duo/Pilatus 200K single crystal x-ray diffractometer
- Liquid helium recovery system
- Stirling Cryogenics StirLIN-1 Economy Liquid nitrogen production plant
The facility has seen rapid growth over the last decade. Here is a timeline and some information about the NMR facility's development:
1986 – The Magnetic Resonance Facility had its beginnings back in 1986 with the purchase of the University's first NMR spectrometer, a Bruker AC 250 MHz system, for routine use in the chemistry department. This instrument was the core of the facility for over a decade and was user maintained and operated.
2001 – The facility acquired it’s second NMR spectrometer through funding from the Alberta Network for Proteonomic Innovation (ANPI). This spectrometer was a 500 MHz wide-bore Varian Unity INOVA system ($1,100,000) that was capable of both solution-state and solid-state NMR experiments. The purchase of this instrument had several key ramifications with respect to the facility's impact and operation.
Firstly, it was a highly specialized spectrometer focused on the acquisition of fluorine NMR and was purchased with several unique solid-state probes specifically designed for the same purpose. This immediately made the facility in Lethbridge unique throughout North America and one of only a few facilities of its kind in the world.
Secondly, this specialization in fluorine NMR was a major driving force in the development of fluorine chemistry as a focus inside of the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. This focus on fluorine chemistry has flourished over the last decade, as is evident with the creation of the recently formed Canadian Center for Research in Applied Fluorine Technology (C- CRAFT) at the University of Lethbridge. Lastly, the unique and broad capabilities of the instrument meant that it could not be user operated or maintained. This led to the creation of the NMR Facility Manager position inside the Faculty of Arts and Science, allowing the University to recruit and retain a faculty level position that would be specialized in, and be responsible for, the day to day operation of the NMR facilities.
2004 – Dr. Paul Hazendonk and Dr. Michael Gerken obtained $288,000 from a CFI for the purchase of two solid-state NMR probes specialized in fluorine NMR for the new 500 MHz NMR spectrometer.
2006 – The department of Chemistry and Biochemistry received two separate awards, each valued at $250,000, from NSERC RTI on the same day! Only 4 RTI applications were successful across the nation, so this was a very proud moment and day for the University of Lethbridge. The first award was provided to upgrade the Bruker AC 250 MHz spectrometer to a modern Bruker Avance II 300 MHz spectrometer. The second award was provided to purchase a new Bruker single crystal x-ray diffractometer.
2010 – One of the most essential pieces of equipment in the facility, the liquid helium recovery system, was installed. This recovery system was funded by a private donation of $250,000 from the Wigham family and was matched by $250,000 of funding from Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AFHMR). The matching $250,000 was used to purchase a liquid nitrogen production plant. The capability to produce both of these cryogens in house has essentially removed the major operating costs for the magnetic resonance systems. The liquid helium recovery system was only the second of its kind installed in an NMR Facility in the Americas.
2011 – Dr. Rene Boere and Dr. Paul Hayes were successful in obtaining $428,000 of CFI funding for the purchase of a Bruker EMX Plus EPR spectrometer making our NMR facility one of the world’s only places capable of performing SEEPR experiments (simultaneous electrochemical electron paramagnetic resonance).
2012 – The NMR user group was successful in obtaining an NSERC RTI grant for $250,000 for the upgrade of the 500 MHz NMR spectrometer to a modern Bruker Avance III HD system.
2013 – Dr. Paul Hazendonk, Dr. Paul Hayes, and Dr. Michael Gerken received $1,450,000 from CFI for the purchase of a new Bruker Avance III HD 700 MHz NMR spectrometer. This new system is configured and optimized to work with fluorine NMR allowing the specialized fluorine capabilities in the facility to be further expanded.
2016 – The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department secured internal funds to purchase a state-of-the-art Rigaku-Oxford SuperNova Duo/Pilatus 200K single crystal x-ray diffractometer. This system replaced the older Bruker x-ray diffractometer and came equipped with two sources and can carry out measurements on both small molecules and proteins.
2017 – The expansion of the Nucelar Magnetic Resonance Facility over the past two decades resulted in the hiring of a full-time NMR Facility technician on a three-year contract. This position was responsible for supporting the day to day activities of the facility and its users.
2019 – The entire Magnetic Resonance Facility, including the x-ray diffractometer, EPR, and cryogenic production facilities, were moved into the new Science Commons building at the University of Lethbridge. Facility management spent over 4 years planning the space for the magnetic resonance facility in the new building. The move into this new facility makes the Magnetic Resonance Facility at the University of Lethbridge one of the most start of the art facilities with respect to both instrumentation and support/building infrastructure in North America.
2020 – The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility Technician position was converted into a full-time permanent continuing position.
Undergraduate/Graduate Trainees in the Magnetic Resonance Facility
We have trained 204 students to work independently in the facility since 2010. This is an average of more than 20 students trained in the facility per year. Most of these students are trained multiple different times, as each instrument has its own specific training requirements. The facility has offered over 335 training sessions in the past 10 years (~33.5 training sessions per year).
The NMR center works with over a dozen researchers from multiple departments at the University of Lethbridge, plus, multiple external researchers and companies in the private sector.
External Users of the Magnetic Resonance Facility:
Dr. Wade Abbot (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
Dr. Douglas Inglis (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
Dr. Chantel Debert (University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine)
Dr. Chester Ho (University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services)