NMR Machine Donation

One area of focus for Kenyatta University Foundation is to support staff and departments in their pursuit for quality and competitive education in both research and teaching. Through the courtesy of Kenyatta University Foundation, Kenyatta University acquired the BRUKER AVANCE 400 MHZ Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer. The Bruker Avance 400 NMR spectrometer has cross polarization/magic angle spinning (CP/MAS) facility that is capable of analysing both solid and liquid samples. It therefore an instrument of choice for laboratories requiring a compact, easy-to-use instrument that delivers fast, reliable results for routine and analytical research analyses. The instrument uses a large magnet to probe the intrinsic spin properties of atomic nuclei.

The spectrometer would enable the university to realise pertinent objectives relating to teaching, learning, research and consultation. This state-of-the-art technology will spur national, regional and worldwide consultation and collaboration in science and other related activities.


The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer.


Dr Rose Otieno KUF Programme Coordinator welcoming the guests on behalf to the occasion


Prof Mugenda, officially handing over the NMR to the Dean SPAS Prof Ngeranwa in the presence of all Heads of department in SPAS Prof Nyambaka (Chemistry)


KUf committee chair Dr Wanjama officially handing over the NMR to the Vice Chancellor. In attendance were Prof Ngeranwa Dean SPAS, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration Prof Wainaina, Prof Muse Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance, Dr Ruth Ndungu Registrar Corporate Affairs and Dr Rose Otieno KUF Programme Coordinator

Advantages of NMR technology in teaching and research at Kenyatta University
1. It is controlled by easy to use software and as such can be put into diverse applications of analysis such as carbon, phosphorous and hydrogen (1H, 13C and31P) with an outstanding performance. Other isotopes such as 2H, 3He, 15N, 19F signals can also be analysed as they can be detected by the NMR spectrophotometer.
2. This equipment is ideal for compound detection, quantization, and structural confirmation of samples at even minute concentrations. For meaningful analysis, researches spend less time developing their methods and analysing results.
3. It will improve quality of research as it will save on time spent on analysis of research materials and output in terms of publications.
4. The instrument can be used in forensics sciences implying that other institutions, apart from the Universities, will benefit from the analysis of sample; like Government Chemists, KEBs, KARI and KEMRI among others.
5. The instrument is highly sensitive and such can analysis micro quantities of samples thus non-destructive.
6. The quality of results is of high calibre such that it can assist in confirmation from other analytical methods.
7. The NMR will enable capacity building and enrich staff and students’ research in this region.
8. This NMR technology will be utilized at Kenyatta University on a non-profit basis to benefit teaching, research and science education.
How NMR works
NMR is a physical phenomenon in which nuclei in a magnetic field absorb and re-emit electromagnetic radiation. NMR is a research technique that exploits the magnetic properties of certain atomic nuclei. It determines the physical and chemical properties of atoms or the molecules in which they are contained. It relies on the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance and can provide detailed information about the structure, dynamics, reaction state, and chemical environment of molecules. The intra-molecular magnetic field around an atom in a molecule changes the resonance frequency, thus giving access to details of the electronic structure of a molecule. Many scientific techniques exploit NMR phenomena to study molecular physics, crystals, and non-crystalline materials through NMR spectroscopy. NMR is also routinely used in advanced medical imaging techniques, such as in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Most frequently, NMR spectroscopy is used by chemists and biochemists to investigate the properties of organic molecules, although it is applicable to any kind of sample that contains nuclei possessing spin. The application of NMR in the science is wide: Medical MRI, Chemistry, Purity determination, Non-destructive testing, Acquisition of dynamic information, Data acquisition in the petroleum industry, NMR in porous media, Flow probes for NMR spectroscopy, Process control, Earth’s field NMR, Zero Field NMR, quantum computing, Magnetometer (measure magnetic fields).
Like all spectroscopies, NMR uses a component of electromagnetic radiation to promote transitions between nuclear energy levels (resonance). This helps chemists to determine structures of molecules. NMR magnets are made of superconducting solenoids. For them to achieve superconductivity, solenoids are enclosed in a liquid helium vessel. A liquid nitrogen dewar envelopes the liquid helium vessel to minimize the loss of liquid helium. This practise is done because the cost of liquid nitrogen is about 40 times less than liquid helium.


Since the NMR cannot be shipped ready to use – they have a superconducting magnet that would be a problem to keep active – it was quenched by an expert in the US after being decommissioned by Bruker and brought alive by an expert on arrival in Nairobi. KU provides liquid Helium and liquid nitrogen to start the magnet, and have a dedicated technician who runs it. For specific preparation, a forklift was used to get it from the container into the room. Further the machine had to be kept upright to avoid tilting throughout the loading and unloading process. Careless handling would have required re-calibration.
The NMR spectrometer was received at KU main campus on 11th November 2014. The occasion was full of exuberance right from the gate to the final destination at the Department of Chemistry. On arrival at the KU gate, the NMR was received joyously by the Kenyatta University Foundation Committee accompanied with celebratory traditional song and dance.