Monday, April 18, 2011
FT NMR Spectra Without Pulses
An FT NMR spectrum is obtained by applying a pulse at the Larmor frequency to a sample in a magnetic field. The precession of the spins induces a voltage in the receiver coil which is recorded as a function of time. The Fourier transform of the time dependent signal is the NMR spectrum. What happens if you do not provide any pulses? You might think that you would not observe a signal - but this is not the case. Even without any pulses there is sufficient noise present to allow incoherent precession of the nuclear spins. This precession can be measured and indeed produce an NMR spectrum. This is demonstrated in the figure below. The bottom trace shows a conventional 300 MHz 1H NMR spectrum of ethyl acetate collected with one scan using a 30° pulse. The top trace was collected on the same sample by adding 256 single scan magnitude spectra using no pulses whatsoever. Although very weak, one can clearly see the NMR spectrum of ethyl acetate.