Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is an analytical chemistry technique used in quality control and reserach for determining the content and purity of a sample as well as its molecular structure. For example, NMR can quantitatively analyze mixtures containing known compounds. For unknown compounds, NMR can either be used to match against spectral libraries or to infer the basic structure directly. Once the basic structure is known, NMR can be used to determine molecular conformation in solution as well as studying physical properties at the molecular level such as conformational exchange, phase changes, solubility, and diffusion. In order to achieve the desired results, a variety of NMR techniques are available.
The basis of NMR
The principle behind NMR is that many nuclei have spin and all nuclei are electrically charged. If an external magnetic field is applied, an energy transfer is possible between the base energy to a higher energy level (generally a single energy gap). The energy transfer takes place at a wavelength that corresponds to radio frequencies and when the spin returns to its base level, energy is emitted at the same frequency. The signal that matches this transfer is measured in many ways and processed in order to yield an NMR spectrum for the nucleus concerned.
Fig. 1. The basis of NMR
The precise resonant frequency of the energy transition is dependent on the effective magnetic field at the nucleus. This field is affected by electron shielding which is in turn dependent on the chemical environment. As a result, information about the nucleus' chemical environment can be derived from its resonant frequency. In general, the more electronegative the nucleus is, the higher the resonant frequency. Other factors such as ring currents (anisotropy) and bond strain affect the frequency shift. It is customary to adopt tetramethylsilane (TMS) as the proton reference frequency. This is because the precise resonant frequency shift of each nucleus depends on the magnetic field used. The frequency is not easy to remember (for example, the frequency of benzene might be 400.132869 MHz) so it was decided to define chemical shift as follows to yield a more convenient number such as 7.17 ppm.
δ = (ν-ν0)/ν0
The chemical shift, using this equation, is not dependent on the magnetic field and it is convenient to express it in ppm where (for proton) TMS is set to ν0 thereby giving it a chemical shift of zero. For other nuclei, ν0 is defined as Ξ νTMS where Ξ (Greek letter Xsi)is the frequency ratio of the nucleus (e. g., 25.145020% for 13C).
In the case if the 1H NMR spectrum of ethyl benzene (fig. 2), the methyl (CH3) group is the most electron withdrawing (electronegative) and therefore resonates at the lowest chemical shift. The aromatic phenyl group is the most electron donating (electropositive) so has the highest chemical shift. The methylene (CH2) falls somewhere in the middle. However, if the chemical shift of the aromatics were due to electropositivity alone, then they would resonate between four and five ppm. The increased chemical shift is due to the delocalized ring current of the phenyl group.
Nombre: Franklin J. Quintero C.
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