Look No Magnets


Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a popular technique used to analyse the properties of alloys, metal. But it requires large, expensive superconducting magnets. Now scientists have developed a method that does away with these magnets. NMR exploits the fact that many atomic nuclei possess spin and have their own dipolar magnetic fields.

In the new method a chemical sample is polarised by introducing hydrogen gas in parahydrogen form. The sample's NMR is measured with an optical-atomic magnetometer, at centre; laser beams crossing at right angles pump and probe the atoms in the microfabricated vapour cell. Magnetic resonanace imaging used to analyse human tissues also works on the principle of NMR.


Down to Earth, June 2011