How sensitive and accurate are routine NMR and MS instruments?
Just a decade or two ago, NMR and MS measurements were more difficult to carry out, and the instruments were primarily operated by highly qualified, dedicated personnel. Since that time the paradigm has changed dramatically.
Recent years have featured amazing (unbelievable!) advancements in spectral instrumentation. NMR and MS measurements have become ubiquitous research tools for life sciences, chemistry, catalysis, material science and engineering applications. Furthermore, a wave of impetuous progress in software development arrived. Currently, a complicated NMR or MS machine can be easily operated from a personal computer, iPad or even a smartphone. Upon completion of short training session, graduate and undergraduate students can measure spectral data themselves.
It is a paramount progress that stimulates new discoveries in many fields of science. However, an increasing number of spectral errors, inconsistent measurements and misinterpretations, that recently appeared in the modern literature, are a serious side effect. Quite often, inconsistent spectral data can be found in supporting information of research articles that deal with chemistry and life sciences. We can anticipate a further increase in this negative tendency as more and more complicated instruments become commonly available.
A group of researchers from Zelinsky Institute have addressed technical questions concerning routine analytic characterization and provided a concise description of the most important features regarding the accuracy and sensitivity of NMR, EI-MS and ESI-MS measurements. The article deals with "must knows", that are necessary in order to achieve reliable measurements. Although the principles of these analytic measurements are fairly well known, common mistakes are often made during routine spectral studies.