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Our lab in 2023: Michael Jurkutat, Benno Meier, Masoud Minaei, Pooja Singh, Dmitrii Zasukhin, Pooja Pooja,, Karel Kouřil, and Kajum Safiullin

We transitioned from University of Southampton, UK to Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany in 2019. The KIT lab became operational in 2021.

At KIT we are part of Institute of Biological Interfaces 4.


Magnetic resonance can provide rich structural and dynamic information on objects varying in size from small molecules (magnetic resonance spectroscopy) all the way up to the human body (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI). But while magnetic resonance is extremely sensitive to structural and dynamic changes, the detection of the NMR signal itself suffers from very low sensitivity: Typically only 1 in 10,000 spins is aligned with respect to the applied magnetic field, and hence the signal is 10,000 times smaller than it could be.

To address this most pressing problem of magnetic resonance, our group has invented bullet-DNP, in which nuclear spins are encapsulated in a bullet, and aligned almost fully using so-called dynamic nuclear polarization at low temperature. Subsequently the bullet is fired into an injection dock that rapidly melts the frozen spins, while largely retaining the spin alignment.

Artistic impression of hyperpolarized (aligned) spins, ready for take/off..
Artistic impression of hyperpolarized (aligned) spins, ready for take-off.
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Probe for bullet-DNP.

Bullet-DNP offers unique potential for scaling to small volumes and for increased throughput. Bullet-DNP also offers pathways to all-together new polarization schemes that rely on the rapid transfer of the hyperpolarized solid.

To see bullet-DNP in action, have a look at our recent contribution to the Ampere Visual Encyclopedia of Magnetic Resonance: Bullet-DNP @ Youtube

Quantum-rotor-induced polarization

Another research area of our group is quantum-rotor-induced polarization. This somewhat intricate mechanism uses the large rotational splitting of freely rotating molecules or molecular moieties such as methyl groups to generate highly polarized nuclear spins. The most prominent quantum-rotor for such applications is para-hydrogen, which has widespread applications in magnetic resonance. Polar molecules such as fullerene-encapsulated water molecules or freely rotating methyl groups additionally provide an opportunity to probe and exploit the rotational energy structure with sensitive electrical probes.

Key Publications

The first account of bullet-DNP has been published in 2019 and is available at Nature Communications. Recently, we have presented our first bullet-DNP work at KIT in Magnetic Resonance. Our work on bullet-DNP grew out of earlier work on the quantum rotor H2O@C60. This work has been published in Physical Review Letters [Full Text]. A review on quantum-rotor-induced polarization is available at Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry [Full Text].


We are currently funded by the Helmholtz Society via a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group, by the DFG within the Collaborative Research Centre HyPERiON, and by the European Research Council via the Synergy Grant HiSCORE.

Previously we received funding from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.