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Case Studies

The case studies contain all of the proton and carbon experiments for one molecule, with a brief introduction to each of the NMR experiments and specific comments relating to interesting aspects of the spectra of the molecule.


Chemistry Education Lab Manuals

The following lab manuals are available for download:

  • Identification of Isomers: This is a laboratory where students acquire their own spectra and utilise basic concepts of NMR. The lab involves analysis of 1H NMR spectra in order to identify the structure of different isomers with the chemical formula C4H8O2.
  • Distinguishing between Isomers:This laboratory involves analysis of 1H NMR spectra in order to distinguish between ethyl acetate, butyric acid and isobutyric acid, the structural isomers of C4H8O2. This experiment is aimed at students interpreting real NMR spectra for the first time.
  • Composition of Some Common Household Products: This experiment is an adaptation of an experiment carried out at RMIT in Melbourne by final-year high school students. The aim of the experiment is to introduce 1H-NMR  spectroscopy to students as a tool to identify the organic compounds in some common household products, such as nail polish remover and vinegar. This experiment can be adapted for slightly more advanced students by introducing percent composition by NMR.
  • Identification of an Alcohol using 13C NMR and DEPT: This experiment utilises the identification of alcohols by 13C-NMR spectroscopy to introduce students to NMR spectroscopy for the first time. 1H-decoupled 13C-NMR spectra are simple to interpret and the use of alcohols, with well separated peaks in the 13C-NMR spectrum, allows students to acquire their own spectra, correlate chemical shift with electronegativity and apply nomenclature for naming organic compounds. A list of unknown alcohols with unique DEPT spectra means there is no ambiguity to the assignment.
  • Synthesis and Reactions of Ferrocene: This experiment aims to provide experience in the synthesis, isolation, purification and characterization of organometallic compounds. Purification techniques include distillation, sublimation, chromatography and crystallisation. Students will also develop their synthetic skills using inert atmosphere techniques.
  • Synthesis of p-Nitroaniline via a Multi-Step Sequence: In this laboratory, students gain experience in the synthesis, isolation, purification and characterisation of simple aromatic compounds. In particular, aromatic substitution reactions will be studied in which functional groups greatly influence further substitution of monosubstituted benzenes. The main characterization technique utilized in these experiments is 1H NMR spectroscopy using the Spinsolve benchtop NMR spectrometer.
  • Extraction of Essential Oils from Spices using Steam Distillation: Students isolate and purify the key chemical compounds that contribute to the aroma and flavor of cloves and star anise. The compounds are then be characterized by 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopy.
  • Separation of Neutral, Acidic and Basic Compounds:Students gain practical experience in the separation and purification of simple organic compounds using liquid/liquid extraction and acid/base extraction techniques. The various separation steps will be followed by 1H NMR spectroscopy to determine and characterize the compounds present.
  • Measuring Lipophilicity with NMR: In this experiment, the 1-octanol/water partition coefficient (Pow) of some common solvents is measured. Students quantify the amount of the analyte in water before and after the addition of the 1‑octanol layer by NMR spectroscopy. This information allows for the calculation of the Pow and log(Pow) of the analytes.
  • Aldol Condensation: The objective of this experiment is to understand aspects of carbonyl chemistry and carbon-carbon bond formations using the classical, well-known aldol condensation reaction as an example. 1D and 2D NMR spectra are used to characterise the reaction products and evaluate their chemical structure and geometry.
  • Synthesis of Aspirin: The synthesis of aspirin is a common undergraduate laboratory experiment that introduces students to the synthesis of a pharmaceutical product and the importance and assessment of purity. In this laboratory an additional step in the synthesis has been added to introduce students to multi-step synthesis and the idea of converting a naturally occurring substance to one of therapeutic value. 1H NMR spectroscopy is used to assess the purity of their product and intermediates and give students experience in reporting the structures.
  • Preparation and Characterisation of Metal Acetylacetonate Complexes: The aim of this experiment is for students to synthesise a metal acetylacetonate complex, understand the ketol-enol tautomerisation of acetylacetone and determine the magnetic susceptibility and electronic structure of their compound using Evans method and the Spinsolve NMR spectrometer.
  • Determination of Lewis Acidity using 31P NMR: The aim of this experiment is to use NMR to evaluate Lewis acidity of solvents using the Gutmann-Beckett Acceptor Number. Triethylphosphine oxide is used as a 31P NMR probe. The acceptor number of classic Lewis acids such as boron trihalides may be determined by advanced chemistry students or as a demonstration.


Application Notes

  • Monitoring Fermentation with Benchtop NMR: The fermentation of apple juice was monitored by sampling aliquots at intervals from with fermentation conditions. This note demonstrates how a fermentation process can be monitored without any processing of the sample or online reaction monitoring (which would occupy the instrument for long periods of time).
  • Benchtop NMR Spectroscopy without Deuterated Solvents: The Spinsolve does not require deuterated solvents which may be of benefit for some applications. This includes cost and lack of required processing (a sample can be measured in its native solution).
  • Paramagnetic Samples: The Spinsolve has a paramagnetic protocol which allows acquisition across 480 ppm. This means paramagnetic samples, such as organometallic complexes, that have chemical shifts of up to hundreds of ppm can be measured.
  • Aromatic Systems and JRES Experiments: As a consequence of working at low field some highly coupled systems, such as aromatic compounds, may display higher order spectra (multiplicity does not follow Pascal’s triangle). JRES is a useful experiment to tease out the multiplicity and coupling information that would be observed on a high field instrument.
  • Glucose Anomers: In solution, glucose exists in two cyclic forms in equilibrium that interconvert via an aldehyde in a process called mutarotation. The two anomers have different characteristics in the 1H NMR spectrum, thus the NMR properties of each anomer and the kinetics of the conversion of one anomer to the equilibrium can be monitored using the Spinsolve.
  • Reaction Monitoring of Alcoholic Fermentation: On-line reaction monitoring is easy to set up and run for many processes using the Spinsolve, which can be directly set up on a bench or in a fume hood. This note demonstrates how on-line reaction monitoring can be used by monitoring the fermentation of apple juice.
  • Observing Spin Systems using COSY: COSY is a 2D 1H NMR experiment in which proton coupling partners can be identified, which is related to the carbon skeleton of a molecule. This note demonstrates how COSY can be used to identify which amino acids are present in a small peptide by observing spin systems.
  • Polysaccharide Chain AnalysisSugars play a role in everyday life from food to medicine and much more. Sugars can form polymer chains with different lengths and degrees of branching that can alter their physical and chemical properties. In Application Note 8: Polysaccharide Chain Analysis we measure length and branching of polysaccharides using the Spinsolve benchtop NMR spectrometer.
  • Benchtop NMR Reaction Monitoring for Kinetic Profiling: The Spinsolve high-resolution benchtop NMR spectrometer has been used to study the hydrolysis of acetic anhydride by water. The rate constant can easily and reliably be obtained by plotting the peak height or integral of a characteristic peak as a function of reaction time. The activation energy of the process is determined by carrying out the reaction at different temperatures. 
  • Column Chromatography: Column chromatography is a universally used technique in chemistry laboratories in which compounds are purified from mixtures on the basis of some physicochemical property. In this note we demonstrate the direct analysis of the eluents using 1H NMR spectroscopy.
  • Fatty Acid Characterization:  Fatty acids consist of long carbon chains ending with a carboxylic acid on one side and a methyl group on the other. In this application note we use advanced NMR methods to characterize the molecules.