Alexander Barnes, ETH Zurich: NMR and Dynamic Nuclear Polarization Technology for In-Cell Structural Biology

When: Mon, 8.11.2021, 16:00

Where: Hybrid (Auer von Welsbach lecture hall HS1 OR join us online)

Biochemical molecules and processes have evolved to exist inside of cells. The rich and complex biomolecular composition within cells enables vital biological convergent properties to emerge. Why is it then, that the vast majority of structural biology is performed in highly purified samples? Does such a reductionist approach allow us to characterize the salient features of biomolecular structure? There are now more and more examples in the literature of biological molecules and architectures adapting a vastly different conformational space within cells, as compared to purified and therefore artificial environments.  Solid state NMR is superbly suited to determine, to atomic resolution, biomolecular structures present within intact cells. For instance, NMR spectral resolution is readily afforded with bio-orthogonal NMR active isotopes, such as 19F. However, NMR sensitivity is greatly challenged due to the much lower target NMR spin concentration present within intact cells as compared to purified preparations.  Moreover, NMR sensitivity can be more than 1 million fold lower within cells.  Therefore, I will describe new technology which will increase NMR sensitivity by more than 6 orders of magnitude. Primarily, my laboratory is focused on developing pulsed dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) to effectively transfer electron spin sensitivity to NMR.  To further increase sensitivity, and spectral resolution, I will also describe novel spherical rotor containers for magic angle spinning (MAS) NMR.  Lastly, I will show new superconducting magnets we are developing to achieve NMR, and pulsed DNP, at magnetic fields higher than 70 Tesla (3000 MHz 1H frequency).

Prof. Dr. Alexander Barnes, Dep. of Chemistry and Applied Biosc., ETH Zurich, Switzerland, Homepage – Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy | ETH Zurich


  • Pls. join us either in Carl Auer von Welsbach Hörsaal (HS1), Faculty of Chemistry, Boltzmanngasse 1, 1090 Vienna - no seat reservation required!
  • Or join us ONLINE:
To participate in on-site courses, all participants and teachers/employees, on request, have to provide valid proof of being tested or vaccinated or of having recovered from a COVID-19 infection. It is recommended to wear an FFP2 face mask.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Barnes (© D-CHAB, ETH Zürich)