Solid-State Dynamic Nuclear Polarization at 263 GHz: Spectrometer Design and Experimental
Melanie Rosay1*, Leo Tometich1, Shane Pawsey1, Reto Bader2, Robert Schauwecker2, Monica Blank3,
Philipp M. Borchard3, Stephen R. Cauffman3, Kevin L. Felch3, Ralph T. Weber1, Richard J. Temkin4,
Robert G. Griffin4, and Werner E. Maas1
Graphical Table of Contents entry (+ one sentence)
Dynamic nuclear polarization signal enhancements of up to 80 in solid samples at 95 K have been
obtained using a novel 263 GHz solids DNP spectrometer with a continuous-wave gyrotron as a
Submitted to PCCP Special Issue: High Frequency Dynamic Nuclear Polarization – The
1. Bruker BioSpin Corporation, 15 Fortune Drive, Billerica, MA 01821, USA
2. Bruker BioSpin Corporation, Industriestrasse 26, 8117 Fällanden, Switzerland
3. Communication and Power Industries, 811 Hansen Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
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Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) experiments transfer polarization from electron spins to nuclear
spins with microwave irradiation of the electron spins for enhanced sensitivity in nuclear magnetic
resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Design and test of a spectrometer for magic angle spinning (MAS) DNP
experiments at 263 GHz microwave frequency, 400 MHz 1H frequency is described. Microwaves are
generated by a novel continuous-wave gyrotron, transmitted to the NMR probe via a transmission line,
and irradiated on a 3.2 mm rotor for MAS DNP experiment. DNP signal enhancements of up to 80 have
been measured at 95 K on urea and proline in water/glycerol with the biradical polarizing agent
TOTAPOL. We characterize the experimental parameters affecting the DNP efficiency, the magnetic
field dependence, temperature dependence and polarization build-up times, microwave power
dependence, sample heating effects, and spinning frequency dependence of the DNP signal enhancement.
Stable system operation, including DNP performance, is also demonstrated over a 36 hour period.
Solid-state NMR has been demonstrated as a powerful technique for structure determination of biological
solids, in particular amyloid and membrane proteins 1-5. However, the experiments often suffer from low
sensitivity or long acquisition times due to the small polarization of nuclear spins at thermal equilibrium.
DNP experiments can provide substantial enhancements in NMR sensitivity by transferring the higher
Boltzmann polarization of electron spins to nuclear spins 6-9. This polarization transfer is driven by
microwave irradiation at or near the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) frequency. The potential
gain in sensitivity can be on the order of the ratio of the electron and nuclear gyromagnetic ratios, ~ 660
for transfer from electron to 1H spins and ~ 2600 for transfer to 13C spins. It is difficult to reach these
limits experimentally, except at very low temperature and with long polarization times such as for
polarized target work and magnetic ordering 10, 11. For solid-state NMR applications including multi-
dimensional experiments significantly shorter polarization times are required. Early solid-state NMR
DNP work was performed at low field of 1.4 T or less and primarily focused on materials, such as
polymers or carbonaceous materials 12-16. Applications to high field NMR were pioneered by Griffin and
coauthors (MIT), using gyrotrons as a microwave source 17-22. DNP signal enhancements of 100-300 are
routinely achieved at 5-9 T (140-250 GHz EPR frequency), 90 K sample temperature, and with
reasonable polarization times 23, 24. In addition, a wide range of biological solids have been successfully
polarized 25 and the mechanism of the proton pump membrane protein, bacteriorhodopsin, has been
elucidated 26, 27.
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A paramagnetic center, unpaired electron, is required for DNP experiments. Most of the high field
DNP experiments from MIT utilize the cross effect (CE) polarization mechanism with nitroxide radicals
18 or biradicals, two nitroxide radicals tethered together for stronger electron-electron coupling 28, 29. The
CE mechanism rely on three-spin flip processes where two electrons that differ in energy by the nuclear
Larmor frequency, ωn, flip flop and the energy difference is used to flip a nuclear spin. Hence, the EPR
spectrum must be wider than ωn or two narrow lines separated by ωn 30-32. Nitroxide-based radicals or
biradicals are well suited for DNP experiments to 1H spins. In typical experiments, the sample of interest
is dissolved in or mixed with a cryoprotectant solvent doped with paramagnetic centers and then frozen
for DNP experiments at cryogenic temperatures. Continuous irradiation of the EPR line and 1H spin
diffusion facilitate distribution of the enhanced polarization throughout the solvent and solute 25, 33. The
enhanced polarization is then transferred from the abundant 1H spins to a low-gamma nucleus, such as 13C
or 15N via cross-polarization (CP) 34, prior to detection or any other solid-state NMR pulse sequence.
The CE efficiency increases with the microwave field at the sample, B1, up to a saturation level,
increases with decreasing sample temperature, and is inversely proportional to B0 29. For experiments at
very low temperature or with very efficient microwave delivery to a static sample, a low power
microwave source may be sufficient 33, 35. High resolution solid-state NMR experiments with magic angle
spinning, MAS, have more geometrical constraints on the sample shape and surrounding components
such as the MAS stator and NMR coil. The microwave irradiation of the sample may not be as efficient
and higher microwave power is important. Additionally, for MAS with cold nitrogen gas (> 77 K), higher
microwave power is again critical compared to DNP measurements at lower temperature. Gyrotrons can
provide the necessary microwave power with stable continuous-wave (CW) operation.
Most gyrotrons are designed for military, radar, and plasma fusion applications and typically
operate up to output frequency of 170 GHz with high output power, kW to MW. They are often operated
with pulses of several seconds or tens of seconds, with low duty cycles; and minimal stability
requirements. For DNP experiments, true continuous-wave (CW) operation for days with high frequency
and power stability is required. This is especially important for structural studies where the DNP-
enhanced NMR signal intensity must be stable over extended periods of time. Gyrotrons have been
successfully developed and utilized by MIT for DNP applications at 140 and 250 GHz 22, 36-38 and a 460
GHz gyrotron has been experimentally demonstrated 39, 40. More recently, a 394 GHz DNP gyrotron was
designed and tested by the University of Fukui 41 and a 260 GHz gyrotron by IAP / GYCOM, N,
Novgorod, Russia 42.
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In this paper, we describe a DNP spectrometer with a 263 GHz gyrotron microwave source for
MAS experiments at 400 MHz 1H frequency, and 100 K sample temperature. The gyrotron was designed
specifically for extended DNP applications with CW operation with stable frequency and output power.
Details of the gyrotron design, including electron tube, magnet, and control system, are described and
tuning curves are presented. The microwave beam is transmitted to the NMR probe via a corrugated
transmission line and mode pattern images were taken for evaluation of the microwave beam at the
sample area. DNP signal enhancements were measured on urea and proline in water/glycerol doped with
TOTAPOL biradical 28, 43 at 95 K. The DNP efficiency depends on a multitude of experimental
parameters including the NMR magnetic field position, sample temperature, microwave power, and
spinning frequency. These effects were examined experimentally and are reported in here. Polarization
build-up times and sample heating from microwave irradiation are also discussed. Finally, high stability
of the gyrotron and DNP-enhanced signal intensity are demonstrated over a 36 hour period.
2.1 263 GHz Gyrotron Design
Gyrotrons are cyclotron resonance masers and a special form of vacuum electronic device (VED) relying
on the interaction between an electron beam and a resonant cavity condition to generate microwaves 44, 45.
All VED’s share the following basic components. First, an electron gun contains a cathode and heater for
electron emission, with initial electron beam acceleration when a high voltage (cathode voltage) is applied
across the cathode to ground or an anode. The electron beam is further accelerated and focused through
the electron tube by a magnetic field. Electron beam energy is then converted into radiation in the
interaction circuit or cavity. After the cavity, the electron beam continues to the collector while the
microwave beam exits the VED through the output window.
For gyrotrons, the resonance condition is achieved when the cyclotron frequency of the electrons,
governed by the magnetic field, is nearly equal to the frequency of the electromagnetic cavity mode.
Bunching of the electrons in the beam occurs due to the relativistic dependence of the electron mass and
the electron cyclotron frequency on the electron energy. Electrons that are out of phase with the
electromagnetic wave are decelerated, which causes them to lose relativistic mass and move forward in
phase. Electrons that are in phase with the electromagnetic wave are accelerated and gain relativistic
mass, which causes them to move backward in phase. The electrons thus form a bunch in phase space
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which is rotating at nearly the frequency of the electromagnetic wave and allows for the efficient transfer
of energy from the beam to the wave. The cylindrical gyrotron cavities can be overmoded. Therefore, the
cavity dimensions are not limited by the wavelength and gyrotrons can produce high output power even at
frequencies above 30 GHz where the performance of other types of VED’s declines rapidly. More
detailed information on gyrotron components and operating principles can be found in several recently
published books and articles 22, 44-50
Gyrotron Tube. A solid model and photograph of the 263 GHz gyrotron tube are shown in Figure 1.
It is a hard-sealed gyrotron tube, with welded and brazed vacuum joints. After assembly, the tube is
processed at high temperature for several days to reduce gas pressure and improve operability. Details of
the gyrotron tube key elements, electron gun, interaction cavity, internal mode converter, output window,
and collector are described below.
Figure 1. Photograph and solid model cross section of 263 GHz gyrotron tube.
Electron gun. A single-anode, or diode, magnetron-injection gun (MIG) was designed to operate
at a nominal accelerating voltage, cathode voltage, of 11-15 kV and electron beam currents in the range of
20 – 100 mA. The average cathode radius is 0.5 cm and the average cathode loading, at 50 mA beam
current, is less than 1 A/cm2. The cathode angle and the electrode shapes were optimized to minimize the
electron perpendicular velocity spread, which is predicted to be less than 1% at the nominal velocity pitch
factor, α, the ratio of transverse to axial electron velocity, of 2.0. The cathode includes a filament heater
for electron emission. The magnetic field is generated by a 9.7 T superconducting magnet and the ratio of
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the magnetic field at the cathode to the magnetic field in the interaction cavity is 26.5. The distance from
the cathode to the cavity is approximately 25 cm and the region between the electron gun and the cavity,
the beam compression region, includes alternating copper and lossy-ceramic rings to prevent oscillations.
Interaction cavity. The interaction cavity was designed to support the transverse electric TE0,3,1
mode at 263 GHz. The cavity, which consists of an input taper, a straight section, and an output taper, is
predicted to have a cold quality factor, Q, of 6000 and an output mode purity of 99.7%. The calculated
peak power density in the cavity, including the non-ideal effects of copper, is 47 W/cm2 for a nominal
output power of 40 W. Because the diffractive cavity Q is 6,000, nearly equal to the ohmic cavity Q,
approximately half of the power generated in the cavity is lost in the cavity walls.
Multi-mode efficiency calculations were carried out with a self-consistent, time-dependent code 51.
Potential competing modes, including the TE2,3,1, the TE5,2,1, and TE0,2,3 modes, were evaluated and found
to have higher starting currents than the desired TE0,3,1 mode for the nominal beam, cavity, and magnetic
field parameters. Single-mode operation in the TE0,3,1 mode was also predicted to cover a wide range of
operating parameters. Large signal modeling indicated that, for a cathode voltage of 15 kV, a beam
current of 30 mA, and a velocity pitch factor of 2.0, more than 100 W of power would be generated in the
TE0,3,1 mode of the cavity, resulting in more than 50 W of power at the cavity exit. Key design
parameters of the interaction cavity are shown in Table 1.
The cavity was designed to be thermally isolated from the gun and internal converter regions of
the gyrotron to allow for frequency tuning with varying inlet temperatures of the cavity coolant water at a
rate of approximately 4 MHz/degree C.
Parameter Design Value
Operating Mode TE0,3,1
Cold Q 6000
Frequency (GHz) 263.58
Cathode Voltage (kV) 15
Beam Current (mA) 30
Output Power 50 W
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Table 1. Design parameters for the interaction cavity.
Internal mode converter. The internal mode converter was designed to transform the annular
TE0,3 mode produced in the cavity to a Gaussian beam that exits the gyrotron through the output window
perpendicular to the beam axis. The converter consists of a simple helically cut Vlasov launcher 52 and
five focusing and steering mirrors, designed to direct the beam out of the region of the gyrotron in the
magnet bore and to focus the Gaussian beam waist to the correct size and position to exit through the
window and couple to 19.3 mm ID corrugated waveguide. Because of the non-optimized launcher, the
limited space afforded by the magnet bore, and the extended axial distance traveled by the microwave
beam from the cavity to the window, the calculated diffraction losses for the internal converter system
were as high as 7% and the output mode purity was expected to be no greater than 90%. Cold tests (low
power) were performed to align the mirrors and verify the properties of the output beam.
Output window, matching unit and gap filter. The output window consists of a single 0.093-cm
thick disk of Al203 with a clear aperture of 2.54 cm. Since the incident power and subsequent losses in
the window disk are low, the predicted temperature rise with no direct cooling is less than 5 ºC, which
offers a large margin of safety for mechanical stresses. A matching unit at the gyrotron window provides
a DC electrical break and supports and centers a segment of 19.3 mm ID corrugated waveguide. This first
segment is followed by a gap filter with water-cooled Teflon tubing and adjustable horizontal gap length,
which absorbs unwanted stray radiation.
Collector. The collector consists of a 2-cm diameter cooled copper section designed to dissipate
the spent electron beam, which follows the natural trajectories dictated by the magnetic field of the
superconducting magnet. The predicted peak power loading is 250 W/cm2 resulting in a predicted
temperature on the vacuum wall of the collector of about 100 ºC.
Gyrotron magnet. A magnet is required for electron beam acceleration, beam compression to the
cavity and decompression to the collector, and electron cyclotron resonance in the cavity region. The 263
GHz gyrotron magnet shown in Figure 2 is a persistent superconducting magnet with two independent
magnetic centers, one in the cavity region and one in the electron gun region. The nominal field for the
cavity coil is approximately 9.7 T while the gun coil can be independently adjusted for gyrotron testing
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and optimization. The magnet configuration provides a good compromise between short gyrotron tube
length and reasonable magnet length for a cryogenically-cooled magnet. The magnet is actively shielded
with 1 meter radial 5 Gauss line. The microwave beam exits the gyrotron tube transverse to the bore axis
above the magnet top plate.
Figure 2. Photograph of 263 GHz gyrotron showing from left to right: microwave transmission line, gyrotron magnet with
tube installed, gyrotron control system console, and two chiller units.
Gyrotron control system. The control system monitors and controls a set of components and
parameters for safe and stable operation of the 263 GHz gyrotron. It was designed on a PXI platform
from National Instruments using LabWindows/CVI to develop the software, and is contained in a single-
bay cabinet plus two water chillers. A wide range of operating parameters, such as the electron beam
voltage and current, body current, tube vacuum, water flow and temperature, gun cooling gas flow,
gyrotron magnet and waveguide connection, are continuously monitored and compared to threshold fault
values. Two layers of automatic shutdown conditions are built into the system to protect from potential
personal injury or instrumentation damage. Critical faults are handled directly through hardware with fast
shutdown time while non-critical errors are handled through the software.
The gyrotron microwave power and frequency depend on the cathode voltage, electron beam
current, cavity temperature, and magnetic field, all of which must be stable for constant output power and
frequency. The high voltage power supply is a modified 4 kW Spellman x-ray power supply (DF series)
with filament heater and high stability on the cathode voltage. The electron beam current is stabilized via
a proportional-integrative (PI) controller which adjusts the filament current. There are two separate water
circuits with PI controllers, one for the cavity with low heat load but high stability requirement, and one
for the collector and tube body with higher heat load but lower stability requirements (chillers from
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Optitemp). Cooling and heating elements are included in the cavity circuit to cover a temperature range
of 12 to 35 ºC for frequency tuning. The control system also contains a power supply for the gyrotron
tube 2 l/s VacIon pump and pressure regulator for gas cooling of the electron gun.
2.2 263 GHz transmission line and instrumentation for power and frequency measurement
The microwave beam output of the gyrotron matching unit and gap filter couples into a 19.3 mm ID
corrugated transmission line. The transmission line is precision machined in 25cm long aluminum
segments that are joined together by coupling clamps and held on an extruded aluminum support rail.
Individual corrugations are cut with a period of 1/3 wavelength and 1/4 wavelength depth and length 53.
Three flat-mirror 90º miter bends are included in the transmission line as the microwave beam travels
across the gyrotron magnet top plate, down to a horizontal support rail, across to the NMR magnet, and up
to the NMR probe base. The first horizontal segment above the gyrotron magnet, vertical rail, and start of
long horizontal rail can be seen in Figure 2. The distance between the two magnet bores is 2.9 meters.
After the third miter bend, at the probe base, a Lucite sleeve provides a DC break and an adjustable
vertical gap between the 19.3 mm transmission line and probe waveguide, followed by a corrugated taper
to 7.6 mm ID. The 7.6 mm ID probe waveguide is machined from phosphor bronze and helically tapped
with an M8x40 tap. The probe waveguide ends with two closely-spaced miter bends, 54.7º followed by
90º, for microwave irradiation transverse to the NMR sample rotation and coil axis. The microwave beam
is launched directly to the NMR sample from the 7.6 mm ID waveguide after the 90 degree miter bend. A
7 mm diameter hole is cut through the bottom of the MAS stator and the center turns of the NMR coil are
spaced out for improved microwave penetration.
A directional coupler, consisting of a 0.96 mm thick quartz plate at a 45 degree angle, is included
in the transmission line for frequency and power measurements 54. Microwave power is monitored on the
forward port with frequency measurement or an absorbing load placed on the reflected port. A Scientech
laser calorimeter (AC2500 and S310D display) is used for power measurement with black paint coating
on the calorimeter surface to increase absorption at 263 GHz. Alternatively, a WR-3.4ZBD zero-bias
detector diode from Virginia Diodes can be utilized with additional attenuation after the directional
coupler. Microwave power can also be measured directly in line with a water load (calorimetric
measurements) consisting of fully absorbing water-filled Teflon tubing in an aluminum housing, with
temperature sensors for measuring the input and output water temperatures and a flow meter. The water
load is used for calibration of the directional coupler and laser calorimeter and power measurements on
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transmission line components. Frequency measurements are performed with a frequency locked tunable
24 GHz local oscillator source with better than 2 ppm frequency accuracy from Bruker BioSpin and a
WR-3.4 harmonic mixer from Virginia Diodes. The resulting intermediate frequency from 11th harmonic
mixing is detected on an oscilloscope after amplification and filtering.
During the intial gyrotron tests, power and frequency were measured directly at the gyrotron
window using a calorimetric water load for power measurement and a spectrum analyzer (Tektronix
2784) with a 175-325 GHz harmonic mixer (Tektronix WM782J) for frequency measurement. The water
load has typical error bars of ± 3% and can measure powers as low as 0.4 W. Beam images were
recorded with an infrared camera (FLIR ThermaCam SC640), burn paper, and liquid crystal paper.
2.3 NMR Spectrometer and DNP measurements
DNP experiments were performed on a Bruker BioSpin Avance III 400 Wide Bore NMR spectrometer
equipped with a 3.2 mm quadruple resonance H/13C/15N/electron low temperature magic angle spinning
(LTMAS) probe and cooling cabinet. Three independent gas channels- bearing, drive, and variable
temperature (VT)- are cooled through a liquid nitrogen heat exchanger enabling MAS experiments at 95-
100 K and up to 14 kHz spinning frequency with ± 2 Hz stability 55. The heat exchanger was designed
specifically for low temperature MAS applications to provide sample rotation stability at the lowest
temperature possible. The temperatures of all three gas channels are monitored and regulated by a
BVT3000 LTMAS temperature control unit. The LTMAS probe has sample insert and eject capabilities
at low temperature and samples were inserted into the pre-cooled probe, spun up and allowed to thermally
equilibrate for approximately 10 minutes before any measurements were performed. The magic angle
was set at low temperature using potassium bromide, KBr, and shimming on KBr and N-acetyl-valine and
KBr. Typical NMR acquisition parameters are 100 kHz field on 1H channel with TPPM 56 or SPINAL
6457 decoupling, 55-60 kHz on 13C CP, 40-45 kHz on 15N CP, 10% ramp on 1H during CP, 0.5-3 ms CP
contact time, 20-50 ms acquisition time, 2-10 seconds recycle delay depending on relaxation time and
The LTMAS probe includes the 263 GHz probe waveguide detailed in Section 2.2. All reported
DNP measurements were performed using gyrotron tube serial number one which operates at 15 kV
cathode voltage, 60 mA beam current, 27.5 ºC cavity temperature, and 263.343 GHz microwave
frequency. The NMR field is set to 399.90 MHz 1H frequency. DNP experiments were performed with
the gyrotron on continuously and with cross polarization from 1H to 13C or 15N. Therefore, the reported
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DNP signal enhancements are from the enhanced 1H spins. The DNP signal enhancement is calculated by
comparison of the NMR signal intensities or integrals with and without microwave irradiation. The
microwave power at the end of the probe waveguide was 5.5-6 W unless otherwise specified. Error bars,
typically 1-2%, in the DNP signal enhancement measurements arise from the higher noise level of the
spectrum without microwave irradiation. Spin lattice relaxation times, T1, and DNP build-up times, τ,
were recorded with saturation recovery pulse sequences and analyzed with the T1/T2 relaxation module in
2.4 Sample preparation and EPR measurements
All DNP samples were prepared with TOTAPOL biradicalSong, 2006 #31} in glycerol-d8/D20/H20
solution with 60/30/10 volume ratio, unless otherwise specified. Liquid samples were transferred by
pipette into 3.2 mm OD, 2.2 mm ID sapphire or zirconia rotors with 30 µl active sample volume. Only
22-25 µl sample volume was actually utilized to leave sufficient space for soft Silicone sealing plugs that
are inserted above the liquid sample to prevent any sample leakage before the sample was frozen.
Zirconia drive caps are used for low temperature experiments. Unused filled rotors are stored in the
freezer with the sealing plug still in place.
The actual nitroxide radical concentration was measured by EPR spectroscopy at 9.8 GHz using a
Bruker BioSpin EMX-Plus spectrometer. Packed and sealed 3.2 mm rotors fit in a 4 mm ID EPR tube.
The nitroxide concentration was calculated using the Xenon software. The spin count measures the
nitroxide spin concentration independent of its form, mono radical or biradical. The TOTAPOL
concentration was calculated by dividing the nitroxide concentration from the spin count by two,
assuming that all the measured nitroxide spins are in biradical form. EPR measurements indicated 20-
50% lower TOTAPOL concentration than expected from calculated concentrations indicating errors in the
sample preparation or impurities in the TOTAPOL.
2.5 Temperature calibration
The spin lattice relaxation time, T1, of 79Br in KBr was used as a thermometer following the methods
detailed in Thurber et al. for temperature calibration58. KBr was tightly packed into 3.2 mm zirconia and
sapphire rotors and sealed with PTFE spacers. The spin-lattice relaxation times were recorded with a
saturation recovery pulse sequence comprising 11 data points corresponding to delays from 10 ms to 15 s.
Spectra for the zirconia rotor sample were collected at MAS spinning frequencies of 12.5, 8.5 kHz and
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static conditions, from 100 K to 205 K. For the sapphire rotor, T1 was recorded from 6 KHz to 14 kHz
MAS frequency in increments of 2 kHz and for a static sample, all at 100 K. The actual sample
temperature was calculated from the T1 value of the 79Br nuclei in KBr using previously described
methods 58 and used for calibration of two thermocouples in the probe, the stator exhaust temperature and
the thermocouple in the variable temperature line. The calculated sample temperature was lower than the
thermocouple readings for both rotors. The sample temperatures reported in this paper correspond to the
calibrated values with no microwave irradiation on.
The KBr T1’s were measured with the gyrotron on and off for the zirconia and sapphire rotor to
measure the sample heating due to microwave irradiation. Additionally, to measure temperature rise in an
actual frozen DNP sample a quartz capillary, 0.5 mm ID, 0.7 mm OD, approximately 5 mm in length was
packed with KBr and sealed with an epoxy resin. The capillary was mounted into a PTFE spacer so that
only the epoxy seal was in the spacer. The capillary and spacer were then placed into a 3.2 mm sapphire
rotor filled with glycerol-d8/D20/H20 60/30/10 volume ratio stock solution with 10 mM TOTAPOL and
closed with a zirconia drive cap. This was done in a manner so that the KBr in the capillary was
surrounded by the DNP stock solution. The T1 values of the capillary samples were recorded under static
and 1.2 kHz spinning frequency also at 100 K.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1 263 GHz gyrotron test
Four nominally identical gyrotron tubes were fabricated and demonstrated. A summary of the typical test
sequence and measured data for gyrotron tube serial number 4 follows.
During the initial tests, beam voltage, beam current, magnetic field in the cavity region, and
magnetic field in the electron gun region were systematically varied to determine the parametric limits
and to select a nominal operating point. Figure 3a shows the measured output power and efficiency as a
function of beam current for a cathode voltage of 12 kV and a fixed magnetic field. Output powers of 20
to 90 W and efficiencies up to 10% were measured for beam currents from 25 to 75 mA. To obtain lower
output power, the cathode voltage can also be adjusted as shown in Figure 3b, where the output power
varies smoothly from 90 W to less than 2 W by varying cathode voltage from 12.8 kV to 10 kV while
holding the magnetic field and filament power fixed and allowing the beam current to fall naturally as the
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voltage is reduced. For the measurement, the cavity coolant temperature was held constant at 20 ºC and
the frequency varied from 263.59 GHz to 263.52 GHz as the power was tuned.
To achieve smooth power tuning with cathode voltage while maintaining a constant frequency, the
inlet temperature of the cavity cooling water can be varied. Figure 3c shows the measured change in
output frequency as a function of cavity coolant temperature with the beam voltage and beam current held
fixed at 12 kV and 50 mA, respectively, and all other parameters kept constant. As shown in the figure,
the output power does not vary as a function of cavity coolant temperature and the frequency varies with
the coolant temperature at a rate of 4 MHz/ºC from 10 to 38 ºC. The ability to tune the frequency by
varying the cavity coolant temperature was exploited to maintain a constant frequency while output power
is varied, as shown in Figure 3d.
During the initial experimental demonstration, the gyrotron was routinely operated continuously
for days without fault. Also, it was demonstrated that the gyrotron could operate without fault with 100%
of the power reflected back into the device through the output window. Slightly elevated gas levels
indicated some additional heating in the gyrotron tube due to the reflected power, but the gyrotron
operated without fault at parameters that would have yielded 40 W output power with no reflection
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Figure 3. 263 GHz gyrotron tuning curves: (a) Output power (blue circles) and efficiency (red squares) as function of
electron beam current at 12 kV cathode voltage, V0. (b) Output power (blue circles) and frequency (red circles) versus beam
voltage for fixed cavity inlet coolant temperature (20 ºC), magnetic field, and filament power. The beam current, I0, varied, as
indicated on the plot. (c) Frequency (blue circles) and output power (red circles) as a function of inlet cavity coolant
temperature with all other parameters fixed. (d) Output power (blue circles) and frequency (red squares) versus beam voltage
for fixed magnetic field and filament power. The cavity inlet coolant temperature is adjusted to maintain a constant frequency,
3.2 Mode pattern measurements at the sample
The gyrotron output microwave beam is transmitted to the sample through a metallic corrugated
waveguide transmission line. The microwaves are launched from the end of the probe waveguide and
form a Gaussian-like beam in free space directed at the sample. Infrared images of the microwave beam
were obtained to verify the beam pattern at the DNP sample area. A paper target was positioned
perpendicular to the waveguide exit and IR images in planes at varying distances of 2.5 cm to 20.3 cm
from the waveguide were made. Figure 4 shows the images at 2.54 cm (1 inch) and 10.16 cm (4 inches)
from the probe waveguide exit. As is evident in the figure, the microwave power exits the waveguide as a
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high quality Gaussian beam that is centered and directed at the sample. The distance from the end of the
waveguide to the center of the sample is 13.4 mm and the beam waist (radius at which the amplitude is
1/e of the peak value) is estimated at 3.4 mm based on images closest to the waveguide and the expansion
out. This beam waist matches well to the NMR sample size, a cylinder with 2.2 mm diameter (rotor ID)
and 5 mm length.
Figure 4. Infrared images of microwave beam exiting the 7.6-mm diameter probe waveguide after the final miter
bend. The target was positioned perpendicular to the waveguide exit. The cross hairs indicate the center of the
waveguide and the red circles denote a 7.6 cm diameter.
3.3 DNP measurements on standard samples and characterization of experimental parameters
DNP signal enhancement of urea and proline standard samples. Initial DNP experiments
were performed on a 13C-urea and uniformly labeled 13C, 15N-proline samples dissolved in glycerol/water
with 15 mM TOTAPOL. A typical DNP pulse sequence for a CPMAS experiment is shown in Figure 5a.
The microwaves are on continuously and any solid-state NMR pulse sequence can be performed. DNP
signal enhancements of up to a factor of 80 were measured on urea at spinning frequency, ωr/2π, of 5
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kHz, and up to 70 on proline at ωr/2π = 8 kHz MAS, both at 95 K sample temperature. The 13C CPMAS
spectra of the proline sample with and without DNP are shown in Figure 5b and excellent sensitivity can
be seen in the DNP-enhanced spectrum with just 8 second of data acquisition. These results are
consistent with previously published DNP signal enhancement factor of 100-115 at 250 GHz and slightly
lower temperature 59, 60.
Figure 5. (a) DNP CPMAS pulse sequence, (b) Spectra of 0.5 M U- 13C, 15N-Proline in glycerol-d8/d20/H20 (60/30/10 volume
ratio) and 15 mM TOTAPOL biradical, 25 µl sample volume, with DNP (top trace) and without DNP (bottom traces). Spectra
acquired at ωr/2π = 8 kHz MAS, 95 K sample temperature, with 8 scans, 2 s recycle delay, and one dummy scan. Higher
numbers of scans were also acquired with microwaves off for more accurate DNP signal enhancement calculation.
Field dependence curve. The DNP signal enhancement varies as a function of irradiation
position within the EPR line. Since the gyrotron frequency has a limited tuning range compared to the
width of the TOTAPOL EPR line, the NMR magnetic field was swept while the gyrotron frequency
remained constant. The resulting field dependence curve plotting DNP signal enhancement as a function
of NMR 1H frequency is shown in Figure 6. The curve has a base-to-base width of 410 Gauss (1.15 GHz)
and follows the expected profile for nitroxide biradicals via the cross effect DNP for 1H spins 29. The
gyrotron frequency tuning range of 100 MHz (35 Gauss) with the cavity temperature allows for local
Page 17 of 17
tuning about the maximum position of the field dependence curve. Following the field sweep, the NMR
field position was set to the positive maximum of the curve.
Figure 6. Field dependence curve on 2 M 13C Urea in glycerol-d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10 volume ratio) with 15 mM TOTAPOL
biradical. The NMR field was swept while the gyrotron remained at fixed frequency, 263.343 GHz. Each field position was
measured with 13C CPMAS experiment with microwaves on and off for calculating the DNP signal enhancement. 4 scans, 10 s
recycle delay, and 2 dummy scans per experiment, ωr/2π = 5.1 kHz, 105 K sample temperature. Error bars on the DNP signal
enhancement measurements are ± 2%.
Temperature dependence and polarization build-up times. The cross effect polarization
transfer is more favorable at low temperature due to longer electron and proton relaxation times 59 and the
first high field DNP experiments using nitroxide radicals were performed at ~ 20 K at 140 GHz static and
with MAS at 60 K 18, 19. The helium temperature experiments were followed by nitrogen temperature
experiments at 140 and 250 GHz 20, 21, 26. Figure 7 shows the temperature dependence of the 1H DNP
signal enhancement from 97 K to 160 K at 263 GHz with TOTAPOL biradical as polarizing agent. The
DNP efficiency increases steeply as the temperature approaches 95 K and larger DNP signal
enhancements should be observed at lower temperatures using helium-temperature probes 19, 61, 62.
Reasonable DNP efficiency can still be observed at higher temperature, with a factor of 10 signal
enhancement measured at 150 K on the urea sample, expanding high-field CE DNP experiments to a
higher temperature range than previously reported. Additionally, it is clear that the sample temperature
must be stable for constant DNP signal enhancement during long experiments.
Page 18 of 18
Figure 7. Temperature dependence of the 1H DNP signal enhancement (blue squares) and 1H spin lattice relaxation times, T1,
(red triangles) measured on 2 M 13C Urea in glycerol-d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10 volume ratio) with 15 mM TOTAPOL biradical.
Each temperature point was measured with microwaves on and off for the DNP signal enhancement calculation. 13C CPMAS
experiments with 4 scans, 10 s recycle delay, 2 dummy scans, ωr/2π = 6.2 kHz, with microwaves on and off for calculation of
the DNP signal enhancement. 1H T1 was measured with 1H saturation recovery with CP detection, 11 points and 2 scans per
point. Standard deviation was less 1 x 10-2 on the calculated T1 values. Error bars on the DNP signal enhancements are ± 2%.
Sample temperature corresponds to calibrated temperature with the microwaves off.
The 1H spin lattice relaxation times, T1, were also measured as a function temperature using a
saturation recovery CPMAS experiment and are plotted in Figure 7. For both the urea and proline
samples, the 1H T1’s measured in the glycerol solvent and the urea or proline solute are identical and also
similar to the polarization build-up time (saturation recovery experiment with the microwaves on). The
time constants can differ between solvent and solute in the case of macroscopic samples, for example in
amyloidal nanocrystals 25. For NMR experiments requiring signal averaging with multiple scans, both the
DNP signal enhancement and the polarization time must be considered as excessive polarization times can
offset the gains from DNP signal enhancement. In the temperature range of 97-160 K, net gains in
sensitivity-per-unit-time are still obtained by going to lower temperature. Higher radical concentration
can also be used to shorten T1. In bacteriorhodopsin this works well because the TOTAPOL is excluded
from the bilayer membrane 60
Deuterated solvents have been used to further enhance sensitivity for 1H DNP experiments
followed by CP to low abundance nuclei 28, 29, 63. Figure 6 shows the polarization build-up for 0.1 M
proline in two different stock solutions, glycerol-d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10 volume ratio) and fully protonated
glycerol/H20 (60/40 volume ratio), both with 10 mM TOTAPOL. The 90% deuterated solvent has a DNP
signal enhancement of 63 while the protonated sample measures a factor of 42. The polarization build-up
Page 19 of 19
time constant is a slightly longer with deuterated solvent, 4.56 seconds versus 4.14 seconds. Still, a net
gain in sensitivity is obtained with solvent deuteration. The CP match condition can become much
sharper with highly deuterated solvents, so a balance must be achieved between the DNP and CP
Figure 8. DNP polarization build-up and signal enhancement for 0.1 M U-13C-15N-Proline in glycerol-d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10
volume ratio), red circles, and in glycerol/H20 (60/40 volume ratios), blue circles, both with 10 mM TOTAPOL. Polarization
build-up measured with 1H saturation recovery with 13C CP detection and normalized to maximum value, 4 scans per point,
ωr/2π = 8 kHz, 97 K sample temperature, microwaves on continuously. The dotted lines are the fit with the calculated T1
values from the TopSpin T1/T2 relaxation module.
Power dependence, sample heating, and magic angle spinning. The DNP signal enhancement
as a function of microwave power at the end of the probe waveguide is shown in Figure 9. The DNP
signal enhancement increases with microwave power up to a saturation level. This saturation level does
not correspond to an intrinsic maximum DNP efficiency, but rather a contribution from a range of
experimental parameters, such as the rotor material, beam pattern, coil design, sample temperature, etc.
For example, during initial testing of different NMR coils for optimization of microwave penetration, the
power curves showed the same pattern but reached a plateau at a lower maximum DNP signal
enhancement. Similarly, different rotor materials lower the maximum DNP signal enhancement achieved.
For zirconia rotors, the maximum DNP signal enhancement was 18-20% lower than for sapphire rotors
filled with the same DNP stock solution and sample volume.
Page 20 of 20
Figure 9. 1H DNP signal enhancement as a function of microwave power at the end of the probe waveguide measured on 0.1
M U-13C-15N-Proline in glycerol-d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10) volume ratio. 13C CPMAS experiment with 8 scans, 10 s recycle
delay, 1 dummy scans, ωr/2π = 8 kHz, 97 K sample temperature, microwaves on continuously. 64 scans were acquired for the
microwave off measurement and the error bar on the DNP signal enhancement is ± 1%. The gyrotron electron beam current,
cathode voltage, and cavity temperature were varied to cover the full power range with constant frequency. The microwave
power was measured with the transmission line directional coupler and calorimeter, calibrated with the water load at the end of
the probe waveguide.
The sample temperature rise due to microwave irradiation was measured using a sealed KBr
quartz capillary (0.7 mm OD) in a sapphire rotor (2.2 mm ID) filled with glycerol-d8/D20/H20 and 10 mM
TOTAPOL. The temperature of the capillary sample was calculated from KBr T1 measurements 58. For
a static sample, the sample temperature increased by more than 15 K upon microwave irradiation. At
ωr/2π = 1.2 kHz, the sample temperature increased by 8-9 K. The temperature rise due to microwave
irradiation was also measured in sapphire and zirconia rotors fully packed with just KBr. For the
sapphire rotor packed with KBr powder, a 4 K temperature rise with microwave irradiation was measured
for static experiments, 1-2 K for ωr/2π = 1.5 kHz, and < 1 K for ωr/2π = 8 kHz. The zirconia rotor filled
with KBr experienced 11-12 K sample heating in static experiment and 4 K heating at ωr/2π = 12.5 kHz.
All measurements were performed with 6 W of microwave power at the end of the probe waveguide.
Sample spinning reduces microwave heating since the microwave irradiation is transverse to the
sample rotation axis and different parts of the sample are heated during a rotation period. It is also
beneficial for more uniform microwave irradiation of the sample. Additionally, for DNP experiments
using a polarizing agent with an EPR line broadened by g-anisotropy in a static configuration only a
subset of electron spins are on-resonance with microwave irradiation and take part in the DNP process.
During MAS, more electron spins are cycled through a resonance condition with the microwave
frequency 64. These factors contribute to the observed dependence of the DNP signal enhancement on the
Page 21 of 21
MAS frequency, shown in Figure 10. The DNP signal enhancement increases quickly from static
experiment to ωr/2π = 3 kHz, reaches a maximum efficiency around 3 kHz, and then decreases as the
spinning frequency is further increased. We have observed from the KBr temperature measurements that
for constant bearing, drive, and VT gas temperatures entering the MAS stator, the actual sample
temperature in the sapphire rotor increases by 4 K from static to 8 kHz MAS spinning frequency and an
additional 5 K from 8 to 12 KHz. Recalling the temperature dependence in Figure 7 it is clear that
increased sample temperature due to MAS would have an adverse effect on the DNP efficiency and
comparison of the two data sets indicates that the decrease in DNP efficiency from 8 to 12 kHz spinning
frequency is in qualitative agreement with the expected sample temperature rise due to sample spinning.
For example, there is a 22% drop in DNP efficiency from ωr/2π = 8 to 12 kHz and 23% drop in DNP
efficiency from 97.3 K to 103.0 K.
Figure 10. Spinning frequency dependence of the 1H DNP signal enhancement of 0.1 M U-13C-15N-Proline in glycerol-
d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10 volume ratio), measured with 13C CPMAS experiment at 97 K. Spectra were measured with and without
microwave irradiation at each spinning frequency for calculation of the DNP signal enhancement. 10 s recycle delay, 1
dummy scans, 16 to 64 scans per experiment depending on the spinning frequency. Error bars are indicated on the plot.
3.4 System stability for extended experiments
NMR measurements with hours or days of signal averaging time require stable experimental conditions.
Gyrotron parameters that provided the frequency and power tuning capabilities described in Section 3.1
must now be held constant. Stable gyrotron and DNP operation was demonstrated during a 36 hour run.
The NMR signal intensity of the 13Cδ resonance of proline in water/glycerol with TOTAPOL is shown in
Figure 11 recorded as a series of 13C CPMAS experiments. The spinning frequency was regulated by the
MAS controller at 8 kHz ± 2 Hz and the temperature by the BVT3000 LTMAS to within ± 0.1 degree of
Page 22 of 22
set value on all three gas channels. The DNP-enhanced signal intensity variation is less than ± 1% for the
largest observed deviations (0.31% standard deviation). The 36 hour gyrotron on period was followed by
80 minutes with the gyrotron off and a 2 hour back on period before final off, with the NMR acquisition
continuing during all time periods. During the gyrotron off segment, the cathode voltage is set to zero
while the filament current remains at its last value before the gyrotron was turned off. When the gyrotron
is turned back on, the cathode voltage increases gradually to 15 kV over approximately 30 seconds. The
electron beam current briefly overshoots the target value and is then within 4 minutes regulated back
down. The NMR signal intensity also takes a few minutes to stabilize, due to the cathode voltage ramp,
electron beam current overshoot, and the equilibration time for the increase in sample temperature from
microwave irradiation. Nevertheless, 5 minutes from when the gyrotron was turned back on, the NMR
signal intensity had returned to within ± 1% of its average value during the 36 hour run. Detailed
information including stability plots on the gyrotron parameters, cathode voltage, electron beam current,
microwave power measurements, gyrotron cavity temperature, and tube vacuum, can be found in
Figure 11. NMR signal intensity for 13Cδ resonance of 0.1 M 13C-15N Proline in glycerol-d8/D20/H20 (60/30/10 volume ratio)
with 10 mM TOTAPOL during extended experiment run consisting of 36 hours gyrotron on, followed by 80 minutes gyrotron
off, 2 hours gyrotron back on and off again. 13C CPMAS experiment with 1.5 ms 55 kHz CP, 33 ms acquisition time with 100
kHz SPINAL64 decoupling, ωr/2π = 1.2 kHz, 97 K sample temperature, 16 scans, 1 dummy scans, 6 second recycle delay for
A 263 GHz DNP spectrometer has been designed, built, and utilized for MAS NMR experiments at ~ 100
K with enhanced sensitivity. The measured dependence of DNP signal enhancement on sample
temperature, microwave power, and sample spinning frequency provide insight into the possible
Page 23 of 23
parameter space for DNP experiments and highlight stability requirements for stable DNP signal
enhancements. The spectrometer has been shown to have the high stability that is required for multi-
dimensional experiments including correlation spectroscopy, and distance and torsion angle
measurements. Examples of applications on amyloid fibrils and nanocrystals can be found in the
publications by Debelouchina et al 65 also submitted to this special issue of Physical Chemistry Chemical
Physics on high frequency DNP. The water/glycerol doped with TOTAPOL nitroxide biradical solvent
used in the experiments is compatible with a wide range of biological solids. The enhanced sensitivity
from DNP experiments and demonstrated stability should expand possible applications of solid-state
NMR to samples that are otherwise unattainable due to small sample amount or dilute concentration, such
as large membrane proteins or integral biological systems.
We thank Eckhard Bez, Patrick Saul, Albert Donkoh, Dr. Wurong Zhang, Dr. Michael Fey, Dr. Jochem
Struppe, Dr. Frank Engelke, and Patrick Krencker of Bruker BioSpin for many valuable discussions and
technical assistance. RGG acknowledges support from NIH grants EB-002804 and EB-002026 and RJT
from grants EB-001965 and EB-004866 .
Stable gyrotron operation is illustrated in Supplementary Figure 1. The plots show the logged values
recorded by the control system software once per second. The cathode voltage, in panel (a) was set at 15
kV and is stable to within ± 24 V (5.8 V standard deviation). The electron beam current panel (b) is
stabilized with a PI controller which compares the measured value to the set point and adjusts the filament
heater as needed. The electron beam current in panel (b) is stable to within ± 0.5 mA (0.09 mA standard
deviation on 60.52 mA average). With constant cathode voltage and stabilized electron beam current, the
output power is constant as shown in panel (c). The noise level is due to fluctuations in the calorimeter
reading and is also observed when the gyrotron is off. Power measurements using the detector diode
produced similar noise level. The PI controller utilizes the electron beam current as input rather than
microwave power since the output power is proportional to the electron beam current with all other
parameters fixed (Figure 3a) and it offers fast response time and lower measurement noise.
Page 24 of 24
The cavity coolant temperature also has a PI controller for constant output frequency and is stable
to within ± 0.1 ºC of the 27.5 ºC set point, panel (d). The gyrotron frequency, which was not measured
during this experiment, has always been stable to within the measurement resolution of 1 MHz in
previous frequency measurements. Therefore, after approximately 3 months of operation the frequency
measurement assembly was removed from the directional coupler and replaced with an absorbing load.
The VacIon pump pressure remained at extremely low pressure of 6 x 10-10 Torr during the entire run.
We have seen absolutely no signs of any limitation on duration of gyrotron operation, including
experimental DNP runs of up to 12 days.
XX INSERT FIGURE 11
Figure 11. Gyrotron parameter values extended experiment run consisting of 36 hours gyrotron on, followed by 80 minutes
gyrotron off, 2 hours gyrotron back on and off again: (a) cathode voltage, (b) electron beam current, (c) power measurement
from laser calorimeter reading calibrated with water load, (d) cavity coolant temperature, and (e) tube vacuum.
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