The laboratory structure which we have progressively implemented at the CRMN allows to capitalize on the unique and complementary expertise of the five PIs and their recognized ability to attract funding. This organization inherently triggers and sustains interactions between researchers and technical staff and favors an efficient spreading of the technical and theoretical knowledge across the center. It stimulates collaborations, fosters scientific exchanges, which helps up bring science to the highest standards within our reach. We believe this activates the development of high-risk and breakthrough Science (typically along the lines the ERC evaluation criteria).
NMR plays a central role in the range of analytical techniques used today to characterize matter at the atomic scale. A multidisciplinary, non-invasive technique, it probes the local environment around each atom, and can be applied to a range of samples, liquid or solid, biological tissues or small organisms. While standard analyses are routinely conducted in academic and industrial research, recent advances in methodology and instrumentation are revolutionizing this spectroscopy and increasing its potential for breaking down key analytical deadlocks of societal significance.
Our research projects focus on four main objectives, taking NMR research away from the beaten application tracks, radically changing its practice and transforming its analytical potential:
Revealing the invisible, from the atom to macromolecules: lowering the detection limits of NMR spectroscopy, to observe what still eludes us, allowing for example a more efficient analysis of complex mixtures of small molecules in analytical chemistry, or of biological fluids and tumor cell extracts in metabolomics, an unprecedented observation of diluted species on the surface of materials, the study of proteins and nucleic acids without isotopic enrichment.
Understanding complex architectures, from the atom to the assemblies: determining the three-dimensional structure of non-crystalline samples which are not accessible at the atomic scale by other analytical techniques, such as ligands on surfaces, disordered materials, RNAs non-coding, membrane proteins, viral assemblies ...
Deciphering the functions, from the atom to the molecular machines: to probe the molecular dynamics and the interactions of chemical catalysts or large biological molecules (RNA, proteins) on a broad timescale, to understand their mechanism of action and to be able to control it rationally.
Capturing the ephemeral, from the atom to the organisms: observing rapidly evolving off-equilibrium systems, with a temporal resolution less than one second, as such reaction intermediates, proteins in transient folding states, or the follow-up of real-time metabolism in cells or in animals (spectroscopic and metabolic imaging).
Two main issues, resolution and sensitivity, prevent today’s NMR methods to reach these objectives. In our project at the CRMN we address these with a combination of breakthrough tools and methods
Development of state-of-the-art instrumentation in hyperpolarization and ultra-fast rotation probes, and project of acquisition of a new generation 1.2 GHz spectrometer
Introduction of new polarizing agents, development of new solid matrices for the preparation of hyperpolarized solutions, implementation of innovative labeling strategy and introduction of paramagnetic tags to enrich the information content provided by the NMR
Based on a detailed understanding of the dynamics of nuclear and electronic spins, development of new acquisition schemes and sophisticated correlation techniques for hyperpolarized quadrupole NMR, paramagnetic NMR, recoupling and decoupling under Magic-Angle rotation, ultra-fast acquisitions, measurements of order parameters
Development of state-of-the-art computational methods (DFT, HF, MD, coarse grains) for molecular dynamics, paramagnetic effects interpretation, simulation and guided implementation of NMR experiments