A Bit Of “Filler” Material…

As expected, this week was much more hands-on than last week. While I continued my extensive readings about the scientific theories behind NMR, I have also acquired some more practical knowledge of NMR. On Wednesday, I helped out on my first helium fill, and on Friday I watched my first nitrogen fill.

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A Treatise On NMR

My first week of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) research has consisted largely of researching what I will be researching. More specifically, I have been developing theoretical and practical background knowledge in which to ground my research. As such, my work has consisted of two parts: learning what buttons to push, and why to push them.

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Tuning Into Piezoelectrics: An Analysis Of Molecular Structure Through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (Abstract)

The peculiar properties of piezoelectric materials have proven most puzzling. When deformed, these materials produce an electric field. Strangely, they also undergo physical deformation when placed in an electric field. These effects are well documented and are used frequently in everyday applications: grill igniters use piezoelectric quartz crystals to produce sparks. However, scientists do not know the origin of these piezoelectric effects. For my Monroe Research Project, I will attempt to learn more about the fundamental source of piezoelectric properties. To do so, I will employ a technique known as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR).
NMR exploits the angular momentum, “spin”, of nuclei. When particles are placed in a strong, external magnetic field, their spins align with the magnetic field. Furthermore, specific atoms interact at specific magnetic frequencies: when placed in an oscillating magnetic field of the appropriate frequency, atoms experience transitions between their energy levels. In my experiment, I will use the 17.6 Tesla superconducting magnet inside Small Hall as a sort of “magnetic radio.” By changing the frequency of the radio frequency field, I can “tune in” to the different atoms. Then, using specially designed probes, I will “listen” for the locations of the ions and the magnitudes of magnetic fluctuations. This information will allow me to examine the crystal structures of various piezoelectric samples, possibly giving me some insight into the origins of piezoelectric properties.