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Welcome to Caltech's Liquid NMR Facility
The Liquids NMR facility is part of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE), and located in the Crellin sub-basement, Room 050. It is an open access facility used by researchers in CCE, as well as other divisions at Caltech, JPL, and some outside users. Below is a summary of the instruments in our facility; contact us for more information about our capabilities and how our lab can be accessed. Other magnetic resonance core facilities in CCE include the Solid State NMR Facility and the EPR Facility.


  • Two Varian 300 MHz Spectrometers with auto-switchable probes (1H, 19F, 13C, 31P) (hg2 and hgbi)
  • Varian 300 MHz Spectrometer with auto-switchable probe and 50 position autosampler (1H, 19F, 13C, 31P) (hg3)
  • Varian 400 MHz Spectrometer with broadband auto-tune OneProbe and 12 position autosampler (siena)
  • Varian 500 MHz Spectrometer with auto-x pfg broad band probe (daytona)
  • Varian 500 MHz Spectrometer with auto-x pfg broadband probe and 50 position autosampler (indy)
  • Varian 600 MHz Spectrometer with 5 mm penta inverse probe (1H, 2H, 13C, 15N, 31P), 3 mm inverse probe (fid)
  • Bruker 400 with Prodigy broadband cryoprobe, broadband Smart Probe (103Rh-31P plus 19F/1H), and 60 position autosampler (florence)
  • Staff:

    Dr. David VanderVelde (davidv@caltech.edu)-- Manager--X3004
    Each spectrometer has a graduate laboratory assistant (GLA) who is responsible for user training and basic troubleshooting. The current GLA's are listed on the Instruments page.

    General information about the NMR facility:

    The lab is open for visits or tours from the main door up to the yellow line in the floor tile. Past that line, there are areas around each NMR magnet where the stray magnetic field exceeds 5 gauss. These areas are marked on the floor with red and white striped tape. The high magnetic field areas should only be entered by authorized instrument users who have completed new user safety training (see below), and do not have cardiac pacemakers or other risk factors. Authorized users should not bring visitors with them inside any marked 5 gauss line. 

    Instrument users should receive training from a GLA before running any of the instruments. As part of the training, you will receive and complete a form acknowledging your understanding of the lab safety rules, and entering the PTA (Caltech internal accounting number) to which your NMR bills will be charged. The PTA will normally begin with your advisor's initials. The "PTA alias" which is a letter P followed by a 5-6 numbers is not valid. Return this completed form to the GLA or to Dave before using the instrument for the first time. If your PTA number changes, inform Dave what the new number is.

    To request new user training, sign up on the white board just inside the NMR lab main door. You will also find a list of any currently scheduled training sessions there, and GLA contact information.  If there isn't a training session already scheduled for the instrument you are interested in, the GLA should contact you to schedule one.  We ask that users sign up for training on only one instrument at a time; otherwise, it can become very unclear what the sequence of training sessions is going to be. Also, we have found that new users progress faster if they get trained on one instrument, then practice until they gain competence before moving on to another instrument. There is one training for the automated instruments indy and fid--at the conclusion, you will get user accounts on both instruments.

    At the time you sign up for your first training session, subscribe to the NMR users mailing list. This mailing list is how we inform users about instruments that are down, when they come back up, new software, lab policy changes, etc. You can subscribe here:

    Each instrument has a specific signup/reservation/acceptable use policy. Those are summarized on the Instruments page, and the GLA will cover them during your training session. Instrument scheduling is done as needed on a Webcal schedule, for instance this one for siena (the others are analogous):

    The instruments which should be scheduled on webcal at all times include fid, daytona, siena, hg2, and hgbi. The automated instruments hg3, indy, and florence are run under automation software and maintain their own first come, first served schedules. We only use the webcal schedules on those three instruments during the night queue, in order to make sure that the night queues do not get overbooked. During the day, do not sign up on webcal for those instruments. Webcal does not enforce any scheduling rules when reservations are made. The instrument automation software will enforce some, but not all, of the signup rules. Knowing and adhering to the signup rules is the responsibility of the user.

    Each instrument has a written log book, where you should enter your initials and your advisor's initials, lab phone extension, starting and ending time, nuclei and solvent, and any problems you encountered.

    If you have a problem with an instrument, and it is during business hours, attempt to contact Dave first and then the instrument GLA. After hours, you may call or look for the instrument GLA in their lab, but if you cannot reach them, send an email or text to them (also copy Dave on the email). The GLA's are not on call 24/7. If the problem means that the instrument is not usable, leave a note on the workstation saying the instrument is down. Exercise some judgment when you plan your experiments--e.g. if you will be attempting an experiment you have little familiarity with, don't do it in the middle of the night when it is very unlikely you can get any help.

    We have a site license for the MestReNova NMR software, and encourage all lab users to install it on their own computers and become familiar with it. The principal way you can retrieve your data to process it or back it up on your own computer is through Windows read-only network drives, which also work with Apple software. Many users get their data from a global shared drive, although if you prefer, you can choose to exclude your data from this drive and have an individual password protected drive containing just your data. The drives are only accessible through the Caltech on campus network or VPN. In any case, we strongly recommend you make your own frequent backups of your important files, although we do back up all new data nightly to a central server, which is in turn doing a cloud backup.

    Dave 2/2/16