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Strongly hyperpolarized gas from parahydrogen by rational design of ligand-capped nanoparticles

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The production of hyperpolarized fluids in continuous mode would broaden substantially the range of applications in chemistry, materials science, and biomedicine. Here we show that the rational design of a heterogeneous catalyst based on a judicious choice of metal type, nanoparticle size and surface decoration with appropriate ligands leads to highly efficient pairwise addition of dihydrogen across an unsaturated bond. This is demonstrated in a parahydrogen-induced polarization (PHIP) experiment by a 508-fold enhancement (±78) of a CH(3) proton signal and a corresponding 1219-fold enhancement (±187) of a CH(2) proton signal using nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR). In contrast, bulk metal catalyst does not show this effect due to randomization of reacting dihydrogen. Our approach results in the largest gas-phase NMR signal enhancement by PHIP known to date. Sensitivity-enhanced NMR with this technique could be used to image microfluidic reactions in-situ, to probe nonequilibrium thermodynamics or for the study of metabolic reactions.

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