Research and knowledge exchange

Iain Day

Iain Day RDF

PASSE: Photochemical Amplification of Signal for Structure Elucidation

Iain Day was awarded £8k in RDF funds in early 2015 for the project PASSE: Photochemical Amplification of Signal for Structure Elucidation. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a key analytical tool for the determination of molecular structure in solution, however, it is hampered by low sensitivity. The aim of this project was to develop the proof of concept for the use of photochemical signal enhancement techniques in small molecule structure elucidation with a view to using the preliminary data to support an application to the EPSRC.

“My group use nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the same technique as MRI, to determine the structures of molecules in solution. The difficulty with this technique is that it has an inherent low sensitivity, we need lots of sample. The award from the RDF enabled us to construct a basic prototype illumination device so we can generate sensitivity enhancements using photochemistry. Having the prototype meant that we could clearly demonstrate the proof of principle. Since our EPSRC grant started we have been building a more robust and efficient illumination device, optimising the electronics and optical pathways. We hope to be able to generate sensitivity enhancements of >100 enabling more rapid structure determination with less material. The RDF was critical to being able to secure the EPSRC funding.”


Dr Iain Day, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry and NMR Spectroscopy, Life Sciences



November 2014: RDF application submitted

February 2015: RDF project begins

January 2016: RDF project ends

July 2016: Proposal submitted to the EPSRC for £432k

March 2017: outcome known

June 2017: EPSRC project begins