Chemists flip over new million dollar machine

Tuesday, 6 May 1997

Scientific research in South Australia has received a valuable boost thanks to a new $1.2 million scientific instrument based at the University of Adelaide.

Called a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, the instrument is a major resource for the State and the nation and will be used by chemists and molecular biologists to discover the shape, structure and other properties of molecules. The spectrometer does this with a combination of a powerful magnetic field and radio waves.

The new NMR instrument can be used for a huge range of scientific work, such as research into cancer, and has many medical and industrial applications.

This state-of-the-art instrument is the most powerful of its kind in SA. Funded by the Australian Research Council, the spectrometer will be operated jointly by scientists from all three South Australian universities ­ Adelaide, Flinders, and Uni SA.

"This instrument brings us to the forefront of chemical and molecular biological research," says Dr Simon Pyke from the University of Adelaide's Department of Chemistry.

"The discovery and refinement of chemicals used in everyday life, including pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and synthetic polymers, depend on an intimate understanding of the shape and structure of molecules.

"A method has recently been developed using this technology in the early detection of cancer, and future changes in import controls for wine in the European market may require this technology," Dr Pyke says.

This instrument's INTERNET-capable computer control also represents an opportunity to sell a range of services into South-East Asia.

"The new spectrometer will provide enormous benefit to researchers of all universities in South Australia, and their research efforts will in turn benefit industry, the economy, and the community as a whole," Dr Pyke says.

The University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mary O'Kane, launched the new spectrometer facility on Tuesday, 6 May.


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