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Superconducting magnet attracts molecular research

ce is a physical phenomenon based on the magnetic property of an atom's nucleus. It occurs when the nuclei of certain atoms are immersed in a static magnetic field and then exposed to a second oscillating field, causing them to essentially line up and act in unison, like a battalion of marching soldiers, said Pochapsky.

The electrons, neutrons and protons within the atom have an intrinsic property known as "spin" and within the electromagnetic field created by the magnet, the frequency of the spinning motion of the atoms reveals information about the physical, chemical, structural and electronic characteristics of the molecule in solution.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy was first described more than a half century ago, and is related to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) used in hospitals as a soft-tissue diagnostic tool. It is used in chemical and biochemical research because it is the most sophisticated analytical tool available for determining the three-dimensional structure and motion of biological molecules in solution. The average hospital-based MRI has an electromagnetic field of about 7 Tesla, while this superconducting magnet is more than twice as powerful, measuring a magnetic field of 18.8 Tesla, said Pochapsky.

"Brandeis has done pioneering work in structural biology for decades, and this magnet helps keep us at the cutting edge of research," said Pochapsky. "It's an investment in the future."


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Contact: Laura Gardner
gardner@brandeis.edu
781-736-4204
Brandeis University
2-Nov-2005


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