What is NMR?

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a spectroscopic technique that allows us to obtain detailed information about molecules. We place the sample in a strong magnetic field and use radio waves to communicate with the nuclei of molecules contained within the sample. NMR is a non-destructive (samples are retained) and very informative method for investigating the structure of chemical species, molecular geometry, intermolecular interactions, molecular motion, or following the course of chemical reactions.

NMR spectroscopists gather this information by interpreting spectra obtained from samples in solution or solid state. NMR spectroscopy operates on the same principles as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which provides anatomical or functional images to medical doctors. Neither NMR nor MRI has anything to do with radioactivity; they rely on naturally occurring isotopes of numerous nuclei.  

Whilst it is not necessary to fully understand how an NMR spectrum is produced in order to interpret and assign the data, further information on the theory behind NMR can be found in our Notes, links and videos pages for those interested. Resources are provided for a wide range of backgrounds, from high school level to that of advanced NMR users.