Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A versatile and modular quasi optics-based 200GHz dual dynamic nuclear polarization and electron paramagnetic resonance instrument

I know it's still early in the year, but this may be already my most favorite article for 2016.

Siaw, T.A., et al., A versatile and modular quasi optics-based 200GHz dual dynamic nuclear polarization and electron paramagnetic resonance instrument. J Magn Reson, 2016. 264: p. 131-53.

Solid-state dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) at higher magnetic fields (>3T) and cryogenic temperatures ( approximately 2-90K) has gained enormous interest and seen major technological advances as an NMR signal enhancing technique. Still, the current state of the art DNP operation is not at a state at which sample and freezing conditions can be rationally chosen and the DNP performance predicted a priori, but relies on purely empirical approaches. An important step towards rational optimization of DNP conditions is to have access to DNP instrumental capabilities to diagnose DNP performance and elucidate DNP mechanisms. The desired diagnoses include the measurement of the "DNP power curve", i.e. the microwave (MW) power dependence of DNP enhancement, the "DNP spectrum", i.e. the MW frequency dependence of DNP enhancement, the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrum, and the saturation and spectral diffusion properties of the EPR spectrum upon prolonged MW irradiation typical of continuous wave (CW) DNP, as well as various electron and nuclear spin relaxation parameters. Even basic measurements of these DNP parameters require versatile instrumentation at high magnetic fields not commercially available to date. In this article, we describe the detailed design of such a DNP instrument, powered by a solid-state MW source that is tunable between 193 and 201GHz and outputs up to 140mW of MW power. The quality and pathway of the transmitted and reflected MWs is controlled by a quasi-optics (QO) bridge and a corrugated waveguide, where the latter couples the MW from an open-space QO bridge to the sample located inside the superconducting magnet and vice versa. Crucially, the versatility of the solid-state MW source enables the automated acquisition of frequency swept DNP spectra, DNP power curves, the diagnosis of MW power and transmission, and frequency swept continuous wave (CW) and pulsed EPR experiments. The flexibility of the DNP instrument centered around the QO MW bridge will provide an efficient means to collect DNP data that is crucial for understanding the relationship between experimental and sample conditions, and the DNP performance. The modularity of this instrumental platform is suitable for future upgrades and extensions to include new experimental capabilities to meet contemporary DNP needs, including the simultaneous operation of two or more MW sources, time domain DNP, electron double resonance measurements, pulsed EPR operation, or simply the implementation of higher power MW amplifiers.