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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: 2D made 3D

by Craig Bettenhausen
November 23, 2022


A 3D printed COSY NMR spectrum.
Credit: Credit: Oliver Jones

Okay, bear with us here: This is a 3D print of a 2D NMR spectrum of an extract from a Daphnia magna, a millimeter-scale crustacean. Specifically, it’s a method called correlated spectroscopy, or COSY. Oliver Jones made this as a teaching tool to help students visualize the richness of information such instrumental techniques offer (J. Chem. Educ. 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.0c01130). Jones is a professor of environmental and analytical chemistry at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

In layman’s terms, sort of, a 1D NMR tells you about the types of nuclei in your sample, meaning the various molecular environments in which they’re situated. A 2D NMR lets you tease out how close and connected those different nuclei are to each other. Going a bit deeper, conventional 1D NMR, short for nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, charts the nuclear spin fingerprint of a molecule or sample as a function of the electromagnetic frequency that causes that spin to flip. 2D techniques take that a step further, measuring some of the spin interactions between individual nuclei.

But that’s still a vast simplification. Visual aids help, is what we’re saying.

Credit: Oliver Jones

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