Solid-state NMR Spectroscopy of Next-Generation Hybrid Materials


Evolving through the next decade of materials research will require cataclysmic shifts in balancing the advances of next-generation materials by optimizing function through physical properties in solids and decoding their underlying atomic- and molecular structure.  

Our research area is to advance health and energy based materials using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (SSNMR) spectroscopy and dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) NMR to elucidate the structure and dynamics of hybrid materials. As the population grows and ages across Canada and abroad, fundamental understanding of how the scientific community can improve our lives through materials is an essential step for future generations.

Our research facility is located within the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta. The solid-state NMR Facility for Solids houses three high field SSNMR spectrometers (300, 400 and 500 MHz), while the National Ultrahigh-Field NMR Facility for Solids (900 MHz) located in Canada’s capital Ottawa, Ontario provides additional research support for extremely challenging materials often encountered in our research program.

Some areas of interest include nanoporous materials (e.g., zeolites, MOFs, etc.), bioinspired materials (e.g., biomineralization, phosphosilicate glass-ceramics, etc.), hybrid organic-inorganic materials (e.g., functionalized nanoparticles, sol-gel, photovoltaics, etc.) and exploring approaches to study difficult NMR nuclei in solids.



Michaelis Research Group is a Member of the ATUMS Program:

Alberta/Technical University of Munich International Graduate School for Hybrid Functional Materials



HEALTH: Various skeletal system disorders, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, or bone tissue discontinuity due to fractures, affect millions of people worldwide, decreasing quality of life and generating costs to the health care system. Current treatment methods include the intake of phosphate-based, alkaline earth minerals that bind to the bones’ surface, increasing their sturdiness and ability to regenerate. Our biomaterial division incorporates solid-state synthetic techniques and NMR to develop and characterize new biocompatible materials, such as glasses, cements, and crystalline frameworks with a potential to release those needed species into the body and boost bone mineralization processes. Moreover, we incorporate solid-state NMR, crystallographic and computational methods to study phenomena such as polymorphism of potential new active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).

ENERGY: The exploration of prospective materials to meet the challenges facing the global energy demand including clean production and efficient storage is essential for the continuation of humankind. We specifically investigate a versatile class of materials ranging from porous materials for catalysis and storage to perovskites, including organic-inorganic hybrids. Perovskites have unique intrinsic qualities such as bandgap tunability, high absorption coefficients, long diffusion lengths, and high charge carrier abilities which make them excellent candidates for applications in photovoltaics, solar fuels, supercapacitors, etc. We rely on complementary long- and short-range XRD and NMR methods to characterize and further develop these materials through investigating the intimate relationships between local atomic environments, dynamics, stability, and photophysical properties. Understanding these next-generation materials will be a key ingredient to ensuring clean, high-efficiency, low cost energy alternatives that will diversify the Alberta and Canadian energy portfolios to impact future generation Canadians and beyond.

NMR and DNP DEVELOPMENT: Despite now being considered a mature physical science, development of new techniques and methods in solid-state NMR spectroscopy is ongoing. Such research is an integral component of our research program, as we strive to push the envelope of what may be investigated by solid-state NMR spectroscopy. In addition, we are heavily involved with developments in the emerging field of dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) NMR spectroscopy. The technique will allow access to previously inaccessible nuclei, such as 15N or 17O at natural abundance, and promises to drastically reduce the time required to obtain useful NMR spectra. Our work includes development of polarizing agents, new experimental analytical methods for materials and tools to improve NMR resolution and sensitivity.