Nuclear depolarization and absolute sensitivity in magic-angle spinning cross effect dynamic nuclear polarization
Over the last two decades solid state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance has witnessed a breakthrough in increasing the nuclear polarization, and thus experimental sensitivity, with the advent of Magic Angle Spinning Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (MAS-DNP). To enhance the nuclear polarization of protons, exogenous nitroxide biradicals such as TOTAPOL or AMUPOL are routinely used. Their efficiency is usually assessed as the ratio between the NMR signal intensity in the presence and the absence of microwave irradiation εon/off. While TOTAPOL delivers an enhancement εon/off of about 60 on a model sample, the more recent AMUPOL is more efficient: >200 at 100 K. Such a comparison is valid as long as the signal measured in the absence of microwaves is merely the Boltzmann polarization and is not affected by the spinning of the sample. However, recent MAS-DNP studies at 25 K by Thurber and Tycko (2014) have demonstrated that the presence of nitroxide biradicals combined with sample spinning can lead to a depolarized nuclear state, below the Boltzmann polarization. In this work we demonstrate that TOTAPOL and AMUPOL both lead to observable depolarization at ≈110 K, and that the magnitude of this depolarization is radical dependent. Compared to the static sample, TOTAPOL and AMUPOL lead, respectively, to nuclear polarization losses of up to 20% and 60% at a 10 kHz MAS frequency, while Trityl OX63 does not depolarize at all. This experimental work is analyzed using a theoretical model that explains how the depolarization process works under MAS and gives new insights into the DNP mechanism and into the spin parameters, which are relevant for the efficiency of a biradical. In light of these results, the outstanding performance of AMUPOL must be revised and we propose a new method to assess the polarization gain for future radicals.