Measuring chirality in NMR in the presence of a time-dependent electric field

Jamie D. Walls, Robert A. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Traditional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments are "blind" to chirality since the spectra for left and right handed enantiomers are identical in an achiral medium. However, theoretical arguments have suggested that the effective Hamiltonian for spin-1/2 nuclei in the presence of electric and magnetic fields can be different for left and right handed enantiomers, thereby enabling NMR to be used to spectroscopically detect chirality even in an achiral medium. However, most proposals to detect the chiral NMR signature require measuring signals that are equivalent to picomolar concentrations for 1H nuclei, which are outside current NMR detection limits. In this work, we propose to use an AC electric field that is resonantly modulated at the Larmor frequency, thereby enhancing the effect of the chiral term by four to six orders of magnitude. We predict that a steady-state transverse magnetization, whose direction will be opposite for different enantiomers, will build up during application of an AC electric field. We also propose an experimental setup that uses a solenoid coil with an AC current to generate the necessary periodic electric fields that can be used to generate chiral signals which are equivalent to the signal from a 1H submicromolar concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number234201
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 21 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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