EPSRC invests £20 million in NMR equipment

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced an investment of £20 million in very high and ultra-high field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. NMR is a key technique that has impact across a wide span of science from materials science to medicine.

This investment will enable UK researchers investigating materials and molecular structures to take advantage of new and highly precise scientific instrumentation that will be operating in eight UK universities.

The equipment includes two 1.0 GHz systems (currently the highest commercially available field) plus upgrades to a range of systems with field strengths between 800 MHz and 950 MHz. This will increase both the capability and capacity of solid and solution-state NMR across the UK.

UKRI’s Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “The UK’s global stature in research and innovation is founded on access to internationally competitive infrastructure. This investment means researchers will have new systems that provide greater sensitivity and a greater understanding of molecular structures, with potential impacts in pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, materials science and biotechnology.”

Professor Mark E. Smith, Vice Chancellor at Lancaster University, who wrote two reports on NMR infrastructure on behalf of EPSRC in 2013 and 2017, and helped EPSRC develop the call for proposals, said: “The UK has a longstanding reputation for excellence in the development and application of NMR.

“Recent reviews of NMR showed that, while there had been good levels of investment in NMR infrastructure, in recent years the UK had come off the pace in terms of the very highest fields available to our community compared to our major international competitors.

“This welcome and very substantial investment will provide the UK community with new cutting-edge facilities, while modernising existing facilities. This is a hugely welcome boost for UK research to be able to compete with the very best.”