Friday, September 27, 2013

Press Release: NIH Funds Development of Integrated THz System, Making DNP-NMR Spectroscopy More Affordable

Press Release

NIH Funds Development of Integrated THz System, Making DNP-NMR Spectroscopy More Affordable
Bridge12’s SBIR Fast-Track Grant Will Eliminate Need for Second Superconducting Magnet, Greatly Reducing Cost for Dynamic Nuclear Polarization

Framingham, Mass. – September 27th, 2013 – Bridge12 Technologies, a leading provider of terahertz (THz) technology for applications in science, medicine, security, and defense, announces it secured Phase I of a National Institute of Health’s (NIH) small business innovation research (SBIR) fast-track grant totaling $1.2 million over 3 years for the development of an Integrated THz system for DNP-NMR spectroscopy that eliminates the need for a second superconducting magnet, reducing the cost of DNP-NMR instrumentation by more than $0.8 million per spectrometer. Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) can increase the sensitivity of a NMR experiment by several orders of magnitude, accelerating experiments that typically require weeks to complete in minutes.

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is used broadly across many disciplines, such as analytical chemistry, structural biology or drug discovery and scientists that are using NMR spectroscopy are often challenged by the low sensitivity of NMR, which slows down research and increases research costs. In recent years, Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) has proven to be highly successful in increasing sensitivity in solid-state NMR experiments, achieving enhancement factors of > 200 at 400 MHz (1H Larmor Frequency) corresponding to a factor of 40,000 in time savings. In other words, an experiment that typically requires days or weeks of signal averaging can be performed in minutes or hours. This significantly increased overall sensitivity will accelerate NMR experiments for analytical applications or the structural characterization of bio-macromolecules or catalyst surfaces.

To efficiently drive the DNP process, scientists require high-power, high-frequency THz sources such as gyrotrons that can generate sufficient THz power. As a result, a conventional DNP-NMR system requires two superconducting magnets: one for the NMR experiment and another for the gyrotron. This makes DNP systems extremely expensive. The new Bridge12 project is focused on the development of a novel DNP system based on a THz source that is integrated into the superconducting NMR magnet. This is possible because wide-bore NMR magnets provide sufficient space right above the NMR probe to integrate and operate the gyrotron source. This novel, innovative gyrotron tube is specifically designed for DNP applications, providing sufficient power and has adequate frequency tuning bandwidth to eliminate the superconducting sweep coil that is necessary in other DNP systems. Eliminating the second superconducting magnet can save research groups more than $ 0.8 million per spectrometer, making DNP a much more affordable method. Currently predominantly used in the academic domain, the invention will make DNP-NMR a realistic options for industry researchers. The first prototype probe will be designed to operate at an NMR spectrometer frequency of 400 MHz but the technology is expected to work at NMR frequencies above 600 MHz.

“In recent years DNP has become an important method to increase the sensitivity in a NMR experiment,” says Dr. Thorsten Maly, Bridge12 co-founder and principal investigator for the project. “However, the high costs are prohibitive, especially for young researchers to enter this exciting new research field. Eliminating the superconducting magnet for the gyrotron will greatly reduce the acquisition and operating costs of a DNP-NMR system.. This will make DNP-NMR more affordable, especially for young-investigators/scientists entering the field. DNP is a young research field, so putting instrumentation within economic reach is important to enable research and increase the pace of innovation.”
“Gyrotrons were initially developed for heating plasma in nuclear fusion experiments, which requires megawatts of millimeter wave power and gyrotrons that are currently used in DNP-NMR spectroscopy are often downscaled versions of these devices. However, such high levels of power are not necessary for DNP-NMR,” says Dr. Jagadishwar Sirigiri, a Bridg12 founder and principal investigator for the project. “For this project we took a fresh new look at all components required in the DNP-NMR experiment. This allowed us to develop a novel concept for a gyrotron tube, specifically designed for DNP which will lead to more cost-effective system. ”

Phase I of this SBIR fast-track grant was awarded from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), in the amount of US$ 198,888 over a one-year period. The complete budget for the combined Phase I and II is 1.2 Million US$ over a period of 3 years.

About Bridge12
Bridge12 Technologies develops terahertz technology for applications in science, medicine, security and defense. Overcoming current technology barriers, the company closes the ‘terahertz gap’ with compact sources that are powerful, efficient, and rapidly deployable. Bridge12 Technologies’ solutions help accelerate scientific research, protect national security, and fight terminal diseases.

Bridge12 is a high-tech start-up founded by former scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its scientific team has several decades of combined expertise in high-frequency terahertz (THz) sources such as gyrotrons, microwave technology, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The executive team combines know-how of over 3 decades in project management, information technology, health care, and consumer products. For more information, visit
Media Contact Information
Dr. Thorsten Maly
Director, Bridge12 Technology Inc.
Phone: +1 (617) 615-9332