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Environment

The NMR Spectroscopy Revolution

October 21, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 42

The picture caption stating that “the Varian A-60, the console of which is shown here, was the first commercially available NMR spectrometer” is incorrect (C&EN, Sept. 9, page 70). Varian launched the first commercial 30-MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in 1952. It was upgraded to a 40-MHz model in 1955 and later to a 60-MHz model.

The A-60 was introduced in 1961; this instrument was designed for routine use and could be operated by chemists with little knowledge of the physics of NMR. I am old enough to remember the chemist’s world without NMR spectroscopy. NMR spectrometers were never, nor are they now, mere “machines.” They truly revolutionized physical-analytical ­chemistry.

Anthony Foris
Wilmington, Del.

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Comments
Bob Buntrock (November 6, 2013 9:52 PM)
I used a Varian A-40 at the University of Minnesota in my undergraduate research in 1960-1962. Since our heterocycles (indoles and carbozoles) were not very soluble in the usual solvents, I ran my few sample in pyridine. The tubes had to be sealed by glassblowing and sealing a tube with pyridine was no fun at all. At Princeton from 1962-1967, we had an A-60 which was much easier to use and the tubes had plastic caps, much better than the A-40. Once again, I was mainly working with heterocycles so my main spectroscopic tools were IR and UV/visible.

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