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Lab Lewks: Affordable NMR Container

Sorry for the hiatus! Phuong and I are finishing up the quarter and have final projects due in the next 11 days. On top of that, with everything going on in the world and this country, it has felt difficult to focus on anything--including posts on the blog. We are writing a little about what’s going on in Seattle due to COVID-19 and protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, but such topics require more thoughtful responses. So for now, here is the latest installation of our Lab Lewks series.

Do you run a lot of NMR? I do. In the past weeks, I’ve ran tons of samples, and we don’t have an NMR instrument in our building. I have to take a 10 minute walk across campus, up many sets of stairs, and to a different building to run any NMR. If you’ve done NMR, you know the samples are placed in long, thin glasses that are easily broken. And the samples I’m running are obviously important to my work! So I need something to carry these precious samples around.

You can buy fancy NMR tube carriers from lab equipment companies, but the ones I’ve seen are a little overpriced when all I need is a vessel to hold the NMR samples on my jaunt to the chemistry building. I saw a pack of 5 carriers which hold 1 sample each, for almost $70.

Enter the humble travel toothbrush container. My lab manager showed me this trick. You can buy these for as little as a couple bucks, and most are long enough to fit the NMR tube, as well as large enough to fit multiple samples. I decided to buy this bamboo toothbrush case. I had been meaning to try bamboo toothbrushes because of their biodegradability, so the fact that this toothbrush came with an NMR tube carrier was just icing on the cake.

I almost got these on Amazon

Tips for finding and using your ideal NMR sample container

1. Get an opaque container if you have any light sensitive samples.

2. Make sure the container is long enough to fit the NMR tubes.

3. Find one that has a design or color that you like. The fact that mine is a cute bamboo case makes me happy and I'm trying to find as many little reasons to be happy throughout my day.

4. If you are worried about the samples smacking into each other, just wrap each sample in a kim wipe before placing them in the container.

5. You still need to hold it upright!

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