Understanding NMR spectroscopy

Understanding NMR spectroscopy 

James Keeler   

Chichester, UK: John Wiley  2006 | 476pp | ?29.50 (SB) | ISBN 0470017872  

Reviewed by Tim Claridge

This year sees the 60th anniversary of the observation of nuclear induction, the NMR response, and it is fair to say that NMR spectroscopy is now a mature discipline and one of the most widely employed instrumental techniques in the chemical and biological sciences. With such maturity comes the fact that the technique can be used to very good effect without the user, or indeed more specialised NMR operators, being required to have any real understanding of how the underlying pulse sequences work. This book addresses this by carefully exposing the inner workings of modern NMR techniques and is targeted at anyone wanting to ’deepen their understanding of just exactly how NMR experiments "work"’. 

At the heart of the book lies the so-called product operator formalism (a more accessible form of quantum mechanics well-suited to describing NMR spectroscopy) which is employed extensively to describe the most common solution NMR techniques for small to mid-sized molecules. That said, many of the building blocks described in the book are equally applicable to techniques for biological macromolecules with some methods exclusively designed for such systems; TROSY for example, is also described. 

Throughout, the book is characterised by its very clear, didactic explanations of the concepts being introduced, even to the extent that rearrangements of algebraic formula are laid bare for those less familiar with such (perhaps long-forgotten) topics. Such attention to detail and clarity is one of the great strengths of this excellent book, with each chapter further supported by a collection of well-judged exercises, the solutions manual for which may be found online (as may the book figures).  

This is not a text for those new to NMR or with limited experience of it. The book does not provide information on how to employ or interpret methods for structure elucidation; indeed only a single chemical structure (quinine) is used to provide illustrative spectra. As such it will be best suited to those in academe or industry already familiar with the application of NMR techniques who wish to develop their understanding of them in more rigorous physical terms. For anyone wishing to know what really goes on in their NMR experiments, I would highly recommend this book.