Bill Schreiber, Ph.D.

Office Space: Bill Schreiber, Ph.D.

The chair of Monmouth University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics shows us one of the most valuable scientific tools on campus.

One of Bill Schreiber’s favorite spots in the Edison Science Building is the NMR Lab, which houses the most complex and expensive scientific instrument on campus: a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer. He gave us a tour.

Close-up of a liquid nitrogen container

Liquid Nitrogen

The NMR machine’s core contains a powerful electromagnet with 10 miles of superconducting wire that must be cooled to -452° F using liquid helium, which is expensive and unrecoverable. Liquid nitrogen is used to cool the outer core of the machine to minimize the helium loss.

Close-up of a sample changer, part of the nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer

Sample Changer

In most instances, an automatic sample changer is used. Information about each sample and the NMR experiment to be run are entered into the computer, and the samples are then processed. The resulting files are analyzed using specialized software to identify materials researchers are working with.


NMR Spectrometer

Faculty and student researchers use this to get essential information about the environments of hydrogen, carbon, phosphorus, and other elements in chemical compounds. In some cases, samples are run over a range of temperatures to explore changes that are occurring within complex substances.

Close-up of fog created by the release of liquid nitrogen

The Fog

At -320° F, liquid nitrogen is so cold that when released, it immediately causes water in the atmosphere to condense, creating a dense fog. It can be used to freeze things almost instantly, which comes in handy when students in the Science of Food and Cooking course make ice cream.