NIH Funds Development of Solution-State DNP-NMR Probe

Press Release

NIH Funds Development of Solution-State DNP-NMR Probe 

Second SBIR Grant Awarded to Bridge12 for Dynamic Nuclear Polarization 

Framingham, Mass. – August 13th, 2012 – Bridge12 Technologies, a leading provider of terahertz (THz) technology for applications in science, medicine, security, and defense, announces it has received the National Institute of Health’s first small business innovation research (SBIR) grant for the development and commercialization of a solution-state DNP-NMR probe.

Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) can increase the sensitivity of an NMR experiment by several orders of magnitude, accelerating experiments that typically require weeks to complete in minutes. Unlike cryo-probes, which typically only yield a sensitivity increase of a factor of 3 or 4, the enhancements that are available through DNP are much larger (> 40). This significantly increased overall sensitivity accelerates experiments for analytical applications of NMR spectroscopy as well as the structural characterization of bio-macromolecules or pharmaceutical drug discovery.

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is used broadly across many disciplines, such as analytical chemistry, structural biology or drug discovery. Scientists using NMR are challenged by the low sensitivity of NMR, which slows down research and increases research costs. Currently, the only commercially available options to increase sensitivity are cryo-probes, which typically yield a sensitivity improvement of no more than a factor of 4. In contrast, the technique of Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) has proven to be vastly more successful in increasing sensitivity in both solid- and solution-state NMR experiments, showing improvements of more than a factor of 40 (400 MHz, 1H Larmor Frequency). The new Bridge12 research is focused on responding to this demand because researchers currently cannot take advantage of these enhancements due to the lack of commercially available DNP probes. 

The first prototype will be designed to operate at an NMR spectrometer frequency of 300 MHz but the technology is expected to work at NMR frequencies even above 600 MHz. The proposed probe can be retrofitted to existing NMR spectrometers, therefore preserving the significant investments in existing NMR platforms, and making the benefits of DNP-enhanced NMR spectroscopy available to a larger community. 

The successful development of this technology will enable the rapid proliferation of DNP-enhanced solution-state NMR spectroscopy for structural biology, pharmaceutical research, and analytical chemistry. 

“The biggest challenge of bringing the benefits of DNP to solution-state NMR spectroscopy is the extreme sample heating caused by the microwave/THz irradiation” says Dr. Thorsten Maly, a Bridge12 co-founder and principal investigator for the project. “At least two academic groups are currently developing microwave/THz resonators to overcome these heating problems and their approaches are based on conventional high-field EPR resonators that typically have very poor filling factors. At Bridge12, we have developed a novel dielectric THz resonator that is compatible with current high-resolution, solution-state NMR probe designs, which is expected to accommodate sample volumes of several microliters.” 

“Sensitivity has always been a major problem in NMR spectroscopy and DNP has more than proven itself in academic research, but the industry still lacks turn-key instrumentation,” says Dr. Jagadishwar Sirigiri, a Bridge12 founder and principal investigator for the project. “Through the use of DNP-NMR, researchers can increase the sensitivity of a NMR experiment by more than factor 40, breaking new ground and reducing experiment costs at the same time. We want to make DNP available to a larger community to fuel ideas that solve today\’s pressing issues in analytical chemistry, structural biology, drug research, and other areas.” 

The SBIR grant was awarded from the National Institute of General Medicine (NIGMS), part of the National Institute of Health (NIH), in the amount of US$ 197,717 over a one-year period. 

About Bridge12 

Bridge12 Technologies develops terahertz technology for applications in science, medicine, security and defense. Overcoming current technology barriers, the company closes the ‘terahertz gap’ with compact sources that are powerful, efficient, and rapidly deployable. Bridge12 Technologies’ solutions help accelerate scientific research, protect national security, and fight terminal diseases. 

Bridge12 is a high-tech start-up founded by former scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its scientific team has over a decade of expertise in high-frequency terahertz (THz) sources such as gyrotrons, microwave technology, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The executive team combines know-how of over 3 decades in project management, information technology, health care, and consumer products. For more information, visit


Media Contact Information

Dr. Thorsten Maly
Director, Bridge12 Technology Inc.
Phone: +1 (617) 615-9332

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