Some of the events under the leadership of Damodaran Achary that transformed a small old NMR lab into a State-of-the-Art NMR facility. Here are some highlights.


Timeline of NMR Facility Development under Damodaran Achary

  • 2022

    I was successful in obtaining funds to purchase an autosampler (Samplecase Plus) that can accommodate 60 samples for high throughput on the walk-on 500 MHz spectrometer.

    Update: Users love it!

  • 2021

    Completed the challenging task of connecting all nine NMR magnets to a Helium recovery system.

    Helium is a non-renewable resource; being very light, it escapes earth's atmosphere and is lost forever once released. Helium recovery is imperative for a sustainable future!

  • 2020

    I was successful in hunting for an unused spectrometer for less than half the price of a new one! We now have a 400 MHz Avance III HD spectrometer installed for the Undergraduate Laboratory. I also upgraded the software to Window 10 and to the latest version of Topspin.

    Proud to build and grow the NMR facility to this stage from humble beginnings 15 years ago!

  • 2019

    Computers frustratingly slowdown overtime causing bad user experience. I upgraded the 300, 400, 500 MHz computers and three processing stations to Windows 10 and to the latest Topspin versions. Now, just OS will be on an SSD (for seamless and fast operation) and NMR data will be on a separate hard drive.

    Did all the hardware and software upgrades myself without any service contracts, saving tens of thousands of dollars!

  • 2018

    I was successful in securing funds for the purchase of a 300 MHz BBO probe to replace a 25-year-old probe on an AV-III spectrometer. My proposal was selected from an internal competition for small equipment funds.

    With this new probe, I could increase throughput to a new level via automation!

  • 2017

    Due to expansion in the number of faculty members at the department, space has become a constraint. To make efficient use of lab space, I designed and organized the 700 NMR lab to accommodate the 500WB from another lab. This helped free up over 300 sq feet of lab space!

  • 2016

    Software, hardware and firmware upgrades were done for the 500 and its processing station to implement Sparse/Non-Uniform Sampling(NUS) in automation. Now 2D NMR experiments could be run 4 to 8 times faster!

  • 2015

    700 MHz magnet experiences a slow self-quench. Interestingly this is the second time it happened, previous one was in 2009. Damodaran works with Bruker to get the magnet re-energized.

    Maintaining a large state-of-the-art high field NMR facility is no joke!

  • 2014

    A new autosampler for the solution NMR 500, a high resolution shim stack and a BBO (H/F) probe for the 500WB were purchased by DOE for Damodaran.

    The autosampler on the 500 becomes quite popular and greatly increases throughput. Also, this BBO(H/F) probe is the only probe in the department which can observe 13C and decouple 19F simultaneously.

  • 2013

    The NMR facility moves into a new space (CSC 450) which is named as the CIC.

    Damodaran oversees the move of 300, 400A, 400B, 500 and 600 NMR spectrometers into the new space.

    Damodaran competes for $100,000 instrumentation fund from DOE and gets awarded, based on his ongoing research projects with DOE.

  • 2012

    A 500 MHz Wide Bore Solid state NMR spectrometer becomes available as the faculty member responsible for that leaves Pitt.

    Damodaran takes up this major additional responsiblity of maintaining and also providing service to the department for running solid state NMR samples. This is the eighth to join Damodaran's arsenal of spectrometers.

  • 2011

    Damodaran's next goal was efficiency. In line with that, two autosamplers for the 300 and 400 are purchased to maximize throughput. The autosamplers become very popular among users as it greatly simplifies data collection.

    Damodaran makes a case for the purchase of a new Smart Probe (BBFO-Plus) for the 600. This becomes the standard probe on the 600 capable of observing any NMR active nucleus from 31P to 15N, along with 1H and 19F.

  • 2010

    Grant for the major NMR upgrade gets funded.

    Damodaran oversees the installation of two 400 and a 500 MHz full Avance-III spectrometers, one 300 MHz magnet and a 600 MHz Avance-III console.

  • 2009

    Damodaran works with Andy Falk, Dennis Curran, David Waldeck, and Ken Migliorese to put together a $1M grant proposal for a major upgrade of all the research NMR spectrometers. Damodaran lays out an upgrade plan which includes,
    (1) Replacing an oxford 300 unshielded magnet by an ultra-shielded magnet
    (2) Replace two of the old DPX 300s by Avance III 400 MHz spectrometers
    (3) Replace DRX-500 by a new Avance III 500
    (4) Upgrade DRX-600 console to Avance III console.

    Damodaran works with Bruker engineers to get the microprobe for the 700 modified to get very high sensitivity on the 13C channel. From this time onwards, this microprobe becomes the probe of choice for very dilute 13C measurements.

  • 2008

    Damodaran works with Bruker to get the new 700 MHz NMR spectrometer installed.

    One of the DPX300 consoles is replaced by an Avance-III console.

  • 2007

    NIH grant led by Prof. Dennis Curran gets funded for the purchase of a new NMR spectrometer. Damodaran spearheads the planning and purchase of a 700.

    Ms. Sage Bowser (an undergrad from CMU) is hired as the new NMR assistant for the facility.

  • 2006

    NMR facility gets $100,000 budget and Damodaran gets two major tasks:

    (1) Shop for an used 300 magnet and get it installed for one of the 300 MHz spectrometers.
    (2) Update all the spectrometers to make it more usable for the NMR users. This includes, (a) Upgrade all the INDY/O2 IRIX workstations to Window XP (b) Upgrade XWINNMR to Topspin and (c) Both of the above requires upgrade of several boards on the NMR console. To save cost, this entire upgrade was done by Damodaran Achary with Dave Emala’s help.

    An NMR assistant position is created and Dr. Macduff Okuom is hired.

  • 2005

    Damodaran Krishnan Achary is appointed as the Director of the NMR facility.

    At this time, majority of the spectrometers at the facility were 15 to 20 years old unshielded oxford magnets with DRX/DPX consoles and INDY/O2 SGI computers with IRIX operating system running XWINNMR.

    Spectrometers: DRX600, DRX500, three DPX300, one DPX300 without a magnet (It had quenched the previous year and was unusable).

Outreach & Volunteer Activities


Beyond fulfilling my regular job responsibilities, I view volunteering my time and skills for outreach activities is a way of giving back to the community. Some of my contributions are highlighted here.

Promoting Undergraduate Research

Research at an undergraduate level provides students an opportunity to better understand some of the concepts or phenomena that are taught in their classrooms. More importantly, it gives them the experience and confidence to jump-start their careers as researchers.

I have been promoting undergraduate research by volunteering to serve as an advisor for undergraduate students. As a mentor, I created research opportunities and provided training for undergraduate students. Here are some of their projects.


Allen Potter

Research Project: Solution NMR investigation of the self-association of an antilipemic agent.


David Newhouse

Research Project: Multi-nuclear solid state NMR studies of ionic solids.


Ben A. Barnhart

Research Project: Investigating electronic versus ionic conductivity of Lithium salts in viscous media.

Research Experience for High School Students

Creating research opportunities for high school students promote an effective transition of High School Students to College and most importantly it helps kick start their interest in scientific research. I have designed research projects that would be challenging as well as achievable by a high school student.

Vishmayaa Saravanan's project involves measuring the temperature dependence of the self-diffusion coefficients of cations and anions in neat ionic liquids using Pulsed Field Gradient (PFG) NMR spectroscopy. Hands-on research training experiences like these help create a passion for a scientific research career.

Please see an honorable mention of Vishmayaa Saravanan in our Pitt Magazine (Page 45 – Summer 2015)

NMR support for local universities

I have been providing free NMR consultation services for many years on NMR instrumentation, software and other technical aspects for several users at local universities such as Duquesne University, Chatham University, Slippery Rock University and Pitt-Johnstown.

Outreach NMR Workshops

Motivation: Pitt chemistry has a state-of-the-art NMR facility as well as essential personnel like me to train and educate its large user base. However many local universities do not have NMR specialists to guide them to get the best out of their NMR instrumentation. For several years, I have been informally helping users from other universities, but could only do so much over the phone/email.

I started to think that an NMR workshop would be a good platform that would facilitate local NMR users and experts in the field to meet and share expertise. I believe, through this outreach activity, many students and educators will enormously benefit from the knowledge gained from the talks in this workshop. Furthermore for the attendees, this would be a great networking opportunity that would help them with their NMR needs and also their career.

Some of the workshops that I organized/taught:

2024: Taught Solid State NMR short course at PITTCON 2024, San Diego, CA
2024: Taught NMR short course at PITTCON 2024, San Diego, CA
2023: Taught NMR short course at PITTCON Online Short Courses
2023: Taught NMR short course at PITTCON 2023, Philadelphia, PA
2022: Taught NMR short course at Eastern Analytical Symposium, Princeton, NJ
2021: Taught NMR short course at PITTCON 2021, online
2020: Taught NMR short course at PITTCON 2020, Chicago
2019: Taught NMR short course at North Central College, Naperville, IL
2019: Taught NMR short course at PITTCON 2019, Philadelphia
2019: Hosted and taught at Small Molecules NMR Workshop, Pittsburgh
2019: Taught NMR short course at Eastern Analytical Symposium, Princeton, NJ
2018: Hosted and Taught at Small Molecules NMR Workshop, Pittsburgh
2018: Taught NMR short course at Eastern Analytical Symposium, Princeton, NJ
2018: Invited talk at Liquid Ion Solutions, Pittsburgh, PA
2018: Taught NMR short course at US Pharmacopeia, Rockville, MD
2017: Taught NMR short course at US Pharmacopeia, Rockville, MD
2016: Conducted Outreach NMR workshop at University of Pittsburgh for users from small regional universities.
2016: Invited talk (Title: Building a World Class NMR Facility) at Penn State University, State College, PA
2015: Taught at the NMR Workshop at Penn State University, State College, PA
2013: Taught at the NMR Workshop at Penn State University, State College, PA

NMR Spectroscopy is an exceptionally powerful analytical tool that has found applications in inter-disciplinary areas of science. Beyond routine characterization, vast array of advanced NMR techniques provide deep insights into structure and dynamics of materials.

We provide solution and solid state NMR routine and consulting services to industries. Please see below for our instrumentation and capabilities.


NMR Instrumentation


Solution NMR Spectrometers


300 MHz NMR Spectrometer (BBO Probe)


400 MHz NMR Spectrometer (BBFO Plus Probe)


500 MHz NMR Spectrometer (BBFO Plus Probe)


600 MHz NMR Spectrometer (BBFO Plus Probe)


700 MHz NMR Spectrometer (TXI Probe)


These solution NMR spectrometers are capable of running 1H, 13C, 19F, 31P and other multi-nuclear experiments.

Multitude of 2D NMR experiments (including COSY, NOESY, ROESY, TOCSY, HETCOR, HSQC, HMBC) at all these fields are available.

All of these spectrometers are capable of variable temperature experiments. (100 to -100 C)

Solid State NMR Spectrometer


500 MHz Wide Bore NMR Spectrometer (CP-MAS and HR-MAS Probes)


Capable of routine 1H-13C CP-MAS and other multi-nuclear NMR experiments.Spinning speeds upto 20kHz.

Variable temperature NMR experiments (100 to -100 C)


For more information, please contact the NMR Director, Damodaran Achary at