NMR is inherently very insensitive but it is one of the most important analytical techniques for metabolomics, natural product discovery and structural biology. To improve the situation, we have worked with engineering groups at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and elsewhere in the world to develop new NMR probes that will enhance applications in protein and natural product studies. We previously developed a unique 1-mm high temperature superconducting (HTS) probe with Bruker and the NHMFL (Bill Brey, Rich Withers, and Rob Nast). Although no longer operational, the 1-mm HTS probe is one of the most mass sensitive probes in the world. These probes have coils that are made from thin films of YBCO deposited onto sapphire substrates to achieve very high Q.
We also developed a 1.5-mm HTS probe optimized for direct 13C measurements. This probe has over 2x greater 13C mass sensitivity than the best available commercial 13C probe. It enabled several new studies that would be difficult or impossible without this technology (Wang et al., 2015; Clendinen et al., 2015; Frelin et al., 2015; Clendinen et al., 2014).
We have an NIH R01 project with our collaborators at the NHMFL and Bruker to develop a larger volume 13C-optimized NMR probe at 900 MHz for the system at UGA. This is nearing completion, and we hoping to have a probe with 3-4x greater sensitivity than a corresponding copper wire-based coil.