Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy Facility

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a key technology for determining the structures of molecules and visualising the anatomy of living tissue. NMR is one of only two techniques available for complete determination of the structure of proteins, providing the fundamental molecular information used in drug design programs.

NMR targets magnetic nuclei by aligning them with an applied constant magnetic field and perturbing this alignment using an alternating magnetic field. The intramolecular magnetic field around an atom in a molecule changes the resonance frequency, thus giving access to details of the electronic structure of the molecule and its individual functioning groups.

Our instruments are used for applications such as:

  • determination of high-resolution structures of biological macromolecules such as proteins
  • characterisation of protein/ligand interactions
  • determination of molecular size and oligomerisation state
  • metabonomic studies of various biofluids.

Using our NMR facilities, researchers have successfully characterised a number of novel peptides and venoms, including an oxytocic plant peptide that modulates the human oxytocin/vasopressin receptor, and venoms from cone snails, snakes and scorpions.

IMB is part of the Queensland NMR Network (QNN), which supports a developing biotechnology industry in this state by enabling access to world-class facilities and industry-leading software.

The facility also holds collaborations with researchers from other Australian universities as well as several international collaborators, most recently with scientists from Europe, China, and the US.


600 MHz and 500MHz spectrometers

Our 600MHz is equipped with a cryoprobe, which allows the electronics of the system to be cooled to very low temperatures (less than -250 °C) to reduce electronic noise that may otherwise limit the detection of smaller signals. Samples can either be run more quickly, which benefits researchers who generate large volumes of samples, or smaller sample quantities can be studied, which otherwise might be ‘invisible’. Both the 600 and 500 MHz spectrometers are equipped with automatic sample changers. This robotic equipment enables a variety of biodiscovery and screening applications that may require higher capacity, faster output and time efficiency.

900 MHz spectrometer

Belonging to the Queensland NMR Network (managed and maintained by UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging), the 900 MHz spectrometer is equipped with a cryoprobe and sample changer, making it the most powerful state-of-the-art NMR spectrometer in Australia. It boasts a magnetic field in excess of 600,000 times that of the Earth’s magnetic field. An analysis that might take days on a smaller NMR takes just a single day, speeding up the rate of discovery. Such high field superconducting magnets also have greatly improved sensitivity and resolution and thus enable researchers to explore the structure and dynamics of much larger proteins. 

External users

The NMR facility is available to internal and external researchers on a user-pays basis. With training you may conduct your own experiments, or we can process samples for you. Additionally, our highly-trained staff can assist with interpretation and analysis of results.