Pinon, A.C., et al., Measuring Nano- to Microstructures from Relayed Dynamic Nuclear Polarization NMR. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2017. 121(29): p. 15993-16005.
We show how dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) NMR can be used in combination with models for polarization dynamics to determine the domain sizes in complex materials. By selectively doping a source component with radicals and leaving the target undoped, we can measure experimental polarization buildup curves which can be compared with simulations based on heterogeneous distributions of polarization within the sample. The variation of the integrated DNP enhancement as a function of the polarization time is found to be characteristic of the geometry. We demonstrate the method experimentally on four different systems where we successfully determine domain sizes between 200 and 20 000 nm, specifically in powdered histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, pore lengths of mesoporous silica materials, and two domain sizes in two-component polymer film coatings. Additionally, we find that even in the apparently homogeneous frozen solutions used as polarization sources in most DNP experiments, polarization is relayed from protons near the radicals to the bulk of the solution by spin diffusion, which explains the experimentally observed buildup times in these samples.