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Delivery of sub-mm wavelength microwave spectrometer worth 1.5 Mio €

December 2014. The 260 GHz electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer delivered this month to Riedberg Campus will allow investigation of macromolecular systems under physiological conditions with higher spectral resolution than was so far possible. Thomas Prisner from the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Goethe University Frankfurt, who successfully applied to the DFG for this capital equipment, is delighted with the new instrument, which provides unraveled spectral resolution and sensitivity for small samples, as for example whole cells. It also has new capabilities for amplitude and phase modulated pulses, which were added to the instrument on special request and in a collaborative effort.

The 1.5 Mio € equipment is being installed at the biocenter on Riedberg Campus and is funded jointly by Goethe University, the State of Hessen and DFG through the DFG's Major Research Instrumentation Programme in accordance with Art. 91b GG.

EPR is a technique for studying atoms or molecules with unpaired electron spin. The basic concepts of EPR are very similar to those of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), but with electron spins that are excited instead of the spins of atomic nuclei. EPR is many orders more sensitive than NMR but has also much higher requirements regarding excitation frequency, time scale and excitation bandwidth. Thomas Prisner and his group have pioneered experimental and technical developments of the EPR methods especially for the applications to relevant biological systems. With the new equipment the group builds on previous achievements using a home-built 180 GHz EPR instrument, which was for many years the pulsed EPR spectrometer at the worldwide largest microwave frequency.

The instrument will be used for the study of structure and conformational flexibility of DNA and RNA molecules in vitro and in whole cells as well as for structural and functional studies on membrane transporter protein complexes. The 260 GHz EPR device with the new option of advanced excitation pulses will allow the scientists to perform optimized pulsed EPR and polarization transfer experiments to nuclear spins (dynamic nuclear polarization, DNP), which will increase NMR sensitivity up to two orders of magnitude. The instrument represents a major boost for numerous joint research projects in CEF as well as the Collaborative Research Centers 807 and 902 and the Priority Programme 1801 of the DFG.


Photo of the new equipment

Thomas Prisner
Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
Center for Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance
Goethe University Frankfurt