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NMR Center Policies and Procedures

NMR System Account


All users of the NMR spectrometers must have an NMR Center account with a valid username and password. The username and password are used for authenticating access on all NMR spectrometers. Instructions for setting up a new account can be found here.

Laboratory Access


Access to the NMR laboratories is controlled by Logiplex card swipe locks using University of Utah identification cards (U-Card). Access will be authorized by the Director of the NMR Center, and users of the NMR spectrometers apply to have their card activated for the laboratories they need to enter.

Reservation System


Access to the solution NMR instruments must be reserved in advanced using the reservation system. Reservations may be made up to four weeks in advance. Reservation of intervals greater than one week should be arranged in advance by consultation with the NMR Center Director. Users may maintain up to two reservations at one time. Concurrent use of both solution NMR instruments by a single user should be avoided. Users reserving simultaneous use of both instruments must inform the NMR Center director immediately after reserving time, and the NMR Center Director reserves the right to deny concurrent access (e.g., during times of high usage).

In the event that reserved time cannot be used, the reservation should be promptly deleted. Users that fail to access the reserved instrument within 15 minutes of their reservation time may forfeit their entire reservation. Repeat instances of failure to delete unused reservations will result in a written warning to the user and PI for the first instance - continued instances will lead to suspension of privileges.

Access Fees


Charges for use of a spectrometer are assessed only when a user is logged in to the VNMR instrument operation program at the spectrometer console. Users are expected to remain logged in during the entire time of their reservation. Information on the current and future use status of the instruments may be obtained using the reservation tool.

Training Program


Users may acquire competence on the solution NMR instruments in a number of ways. The NMR Center offers training in basic computer skills, essential operational aspects of NMR experiments, and basic data processing. Users with prior experience with current Varian system operation, probe changing, and NMR safety procedures may access instruments by requesting a check out procedure designed to confirm skills.

Cryogen Maintenance


Maintenance of the NMR systems is central to operation of the NMR Center. In the event of delays in delivery of cryogens or other unanticipated events, reservations may be preempted to allow Center Staff to conduct required procedures.

Incident Reporting


Responsible use of Center instruments requires that malfunctions be promptly reported to NMR Center Staff and recorded in detail in the system log book.

Laboratory Safety


Strict adherence to laboratory safety must be observed at all times. It addition to basic common sense practice observed in any laboratory setting, there are three categories of safety concerns that are unique to NMR laboratories.

The first concern is the presence of large static magnetic fields, which are many thousands of times the strength of the earth's magnetic field. The distance dependence of the attraction of ferromagnetic materials to the magnet systems is predictable, but rather unexpected (assuming that the magnet is a point dipole, the strength of the interaction decreases approximately as the 3rd power of the distance). Serious injury can result if body parts come between a ferromagnetic object and the outer vacuum case of the magnet system.

A second concern arises dues the common presence of cryogenic liquids in the NMR laboratory. The increase in the volume that occurs with the liquid to gas phase transition is significant, with typical ratios of gas volume over liquid volume of > 700. The conversion of liquid to gas, such as might occur during an failure of the magnet dewar system or through the uncontrolled loss of superconductivity of the magnet itself (commonly known as a 'quench'), represents a potential asphyxiation hazard since the N2 or He gas can displace atmosphere (e.g., oxygen) in the NMR laboratory. In the event of a magnet quench, all individual must remove themselves to a safe location until normal atmospheric conditions return to the laboratory.

A third concern is also related to the common presence of cryogenic liquids in the NMR laboratory. The major concern involves liquefied nitrogen, which has a boiling point at atmospheric pressure of 77K, and has sufficient heat capacity that even very brief exposure can destroy tissue. Liquified helium has a boiling temperature at atmospheric pressure of 4.5K, and though it is a relatively poor coolant, exposure of the skin to a stream of liquid or cold gas can likewise cause severe injury. NMR staff must don protective gloves and goggles when they handle cryogens. Users should also be aware of the risks of exposure and remain clear of the vicinity of the magnet systems whenever maintenance procedures are in effect. In the event of exposure to cryogen liquid or gas, the following first aid procedures are recommended:

Immediately remove the victim from the cryogen hazard (or vice versa).

Remove clothing that may interfere with the circulation of blood to the frozen tissues, but do so slowly, to prevent additional damage to skin.

Do not rub or massage the affected region.

Immerse the affected area in a warm water bath, < 40°C (< 105 °F) or exposure to warm air of the same temperature range.

Eyes exposed to cryogen liquids or gases should be flushed them with warm water, < 40°C, for at least 15 minutes.

The victim should seek immediate medical attention.

Last Updated: 2/13/17