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Tech transfer

A unique NMR infrastructure in Europe at the UB with new superconducting technology

On 10 March 2023 , the new 1 GHz NMR spectrometer was inaugurated at the Scientific and Technical Services of the UB (CCITUB).

ICMAB played an essential role in the development of the high-temperature superconductors installed in this new NMR.

Anna May
14 March 2023
Inauguration of the new NMR at the UB
Inauguration of the new NMR at the UB

The first 1 GHz nuclear magnetic ressonance (NMR) spectrometer in Europe that operates at the temperature of liquid helium (He) (4.2 K) and that uses a combination of low-temperature superconductors, used until now, and the high-temperature superconducting tapes that have been developed recently.

In fact, part of this technology was developed in the framework of the European project EUROTAPES, which the ICMAB coordinated, and that was developed between 2012 and 2017. The Bruker company, which was also a partner in the project, turned this technology into a very innovative industrial product.

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Equipment at the UB | Diari Ara

The superconducting coil used in this NMR generates a magnetic field of 23.5 Tesla, while previous NMR systems that were based on low-temperature superconductors were limited to 18 Tesla and had to be cooled down to 2 K. Therefore, the consumption of liquid He and the operation cost was much higher.

Superconducting tapes have therefore opened the door to ultra-intense magnetic fields and are becoming a disruptive technology with a very widespread impact in very diverse areas. The new NMR system of the CCITUB will make progress in pharmacy, chemistry, biology and medicine as it will allow the investigation of molecules and proteins with never-before-seen detail.

These same superconductors are being investigated as an enabling technology in many other fields: compact fusion, electric aviation, high-power wind generators, smart power grids, etc.

In short, it is a magnificent occasion to see how research in disruptive materials ends up becoming the source of innovations in high-tech areas, even if it takes a certain amount of time to cross the bridge between lab research to the market.

At ICMAB, which has become a world reference in the field of superconducting tapes, we feel great joy when the knowledge generated with our expertise becomes a commercial product and therefore reaches the people who will benefit from it. 

With a cost of 8.9 million euros, the equipment has been financed thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the NextGeneration EU funds within the program of recovery, transformation and resilience.

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Infographic of the new NMR | UB

About the EUROTAPES project and high-temperature superconductors

ICMAB coordinated the largest European project on superconductivity ever awarded, the EUROTAPES (European development of Superconducting Tapes: integrating novel materials and architectures into cost effective processes for power applications and magnets) project.

The project was developed between 2012 and 2017 with a total budget of €20 M (€13.5 M EU contribution), and was coordinated by ICMAB, with IPs Xavier Obradors and Teresa Puig. The project counted with 21 partners from 9 countries around Europe, of which 12 were universities or research centers, and 9 industrial partners, among them the ICMAB spin-off company Oxolutia and the world leader in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) systems Bruker.


Group photo of the participants of the EUROTAPES project on superconductors in 2017 | ICMAB, CSIC

The project investigated all the different methodologies for preparing high-temperature superconducting tapes (coated conductors) and studied the relationship between nanostructure and superconducting properties. Given the magnificent critical mass of accumulated knowledge, the project became the European reference at world level in this emerging technology.

The project was very successful and served to boost R&D and industrial development in superconductivity in Europe in an extraordinary way. As a result, a good number of new projects and synergies with the industry emerged that have had a great impact in the following years.

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