The development and applications of the combined use of NMR and ultrasound

  • Claire L. Burrows

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The objective of the research carried out in this report was to observe the first ever in-situ sonochemical reaction in the NMR Spectrometer in the megahertz region of ultrasound. Several reactions were investigated as potential systems for a sonochemical reaction followed by NMR spectroscopy.
The primary problem to resolve when applying ultrasound to a chemical reaction is that of heating. Ultrasound causes the liquid to move and produces 'hot spots' resulting in an increase in sample temperature. The problem was confronted by producing a device that would counteract this effect and so remove the need to account for heating. However, the design of the device limited the length of time during which it would function. Longer reaction times were required to enable observations to be carried out in the NMR spectrometer.
The fIrst and most obvious reactions attempted were those of the well-known ultrasonic dosimeter. Such a reaction would, theoretically, enable the author to simultaneously observe a reaction and determine the exact power entering the system for direct comparison of results. Unfortunately, in order to monitor the reactions in the NMR spectrometer the reactant concentrations had to be signifIcantly increased, which resulted in a notable increase in reaction time, making the experiment too lengthy to follow in the time allocated.
The Diels-Alder Reaction is probably one of the most highly investigated reaction systems in the field of chemistry and it was this to which the author turned her attention. Previous authors have carried out ultrasonic investigations, with considerable success, for the reaction of anthracene with maleic anhydride. It was this reaction in particular that was next attempted. The first ever sonochemically enhanced reaction using a frequency of ultrasound in the megahertz (MHz) region was successfully carried out as bench experiments. Due to the complexity of the component reactants the product would precipitate from the solution and because the reaction could only be monitored by its formation, it was not possible to observe the reaction in the NMR spectrometer.
The solvolysis of 2-chloro-2-methylpropane was examined in various solvent systems; the most suitable of which was determined to be aqueous 2-methylpropan-2-ol. The experiment was successfully enhanced by the application of ultrasound and monitored in-situ in the NMR spectrometer. The increase in product formation of an ultrasonic reaction over that of a traditional thermal reaction occurred. A range of 1.4 to 2.9 fold improvement was noted, dependent upon the reaction conditions investigated.
An investigation into the effect of sonication upon a large biological molecule, in this case aqueous lysozyme, was carried out. An easily observed effect upon the sample was noted but no explanation for the observed effects could be established.
Date of AwardFeb 2002
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Homer (Supervisor) & Martin S Beevers (Supervisor)


  • development
  • applications
  • NMR
  • ultrasound

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