Merck awards miniaturised NMR spectroscopy concept

Merck Pty Ltd

Friday, 19 April, 2019

Merck awards miniaturised NMR spectroscopy concept

Science and technology company Merck last month announced the winner of its Next Game-Changing Technology prize, created as part of the company’s 350 Research Challenges initiative. Dr Liam Hall, of the University of Melbourne, won for his concept ‘Time-dependent in situ NMR spectroscopy, based on Nitrogen-Vacancy Defects in Diamonds’.

Merck’s Innovation Center, located at the company’s headquarters in Germany, awards the Next Game-Changing Technology prize to technologies with the potential to disrupt and fundamentally change the healthcare, life science or performance materials markets. The challenge was initiated by Merck’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Incubator, organised within the context of the company’s 350th anniversary celebrations.

Dr Hall’s concept addresses the challenge of in situ monitoring of chemical composition in microscopic reaction systems on timescales previously inaccessible to nuclear magnetic resonance techniques. Time-dependent monitoring of NMR signatures associated with short-lived intermediate species will provide a new window into the relevant processes of reaction mixtures and nano-assembly systems. This research has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of many chemical reaction mechanisms and pathways, and thus promises to catalyse further research in synthetic chemistry and biochemical fields.

Dr Hall’s concept convinced the judges because of the way it complements projects already running within Merck’s Innovation Center, and the future relevance of the field for Merck. While Merck employees at the Innovation Center are already working on a solution for X-ray crystallography without the need for crystallisation, Dr Hall’s work concentrates on NMR using diamond-based detector devices, which is aimed at enabling the investigation of individual cells.

“Dr Liam Hall has shown a series of developments in NMR, a workhorse in chemical structural analytics as well as non-invasive medical imaging techniques, which are leading to enhanced sensitivity and miniaturisation of this key technology,” said prize sponsor Christoph Huels, Head of Technology Foresight & Scouting at Merck’s Innovation Center. “We consider this concept as a breakthrough in the well-established NMR spectroscopy technique and congratulate him on his success.”

Image credit: ©

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