Let me tell you about the absolutely fascinating principle of shielding and deshielding of atoms by their electrons! This mind-blowing concept is the key to understanding why protons and other nuclei in a molecule behave differently depending on their environment. And that’s not all! It’s also the reason why protons of different compounds behave differently in the NMR experiment. It’s truly amazing to see how the electrons surrounding a nucleus can influence its behavior and provide valuable insights into the molecular structure. Get ready to be amazed!
Principle of Shielding by Electrons
Although all proton nuclei should theoretically exhibit the same NMR signal, it’s the electrifying electrons surrounding them that make them behave differently based on their molecular environment. It’s almost like a magical force field of electrons that influence how protons and other nuclei in a molecule will respond to an NMR experiment, leading to a unique signal for each compound.
These electrons are charged particles with a spin, meaning they produce a small magnetic moment He. And here’s where things get really exciting: the magnetic vector of the spin of the electrons is generally in the opposite direction to the applied magnetic field. This creates a secondary magnetic field that shields or protects the nucleus from the effects of the strong magnetic field H0.
To obtain resonance, the magnetic field strength H0 needs to be decreased to overcome this induced shielding effect by the electrons. This results in the Larmor frequency for the nucleus, which can be calculated using:
ω0 = γ . (H0 – He) or ω0 = γ . Heff.
As we increase the Magnetic Field at fixed Frequency, the shielding effect increases, causing He to increase as well. H0 is a constant for a given NMR instrument, as it depends on the strength of the strong magnet in it. And here’s the kicker: the Larmor frequency, precession frequency, or the frequency at which the signal is obtained keeps decreasing on the scale as shielding effect increases.
The protons in tetramethylsilane (TMS) are highly shielded, which is why their Larmor frequency is observed highly to the right and considered highly shielded due to the electron-pushing effects of the silicon and carbon atoms. But most organic compounds are relatively deshielded in comparison to the TMS standard. Hence, the He for these compounds would be lower, requiring higher frequencies for their signal, and making them appear to the left of the reference TMS.
Now that you understand the principle of shielding and deshielding by electrons, you can appreciate the incredible complexity of NMR experiments and the vast knowledge that goes into interpreting their results. How amazing is that?!