How Shapal M enables Micro Nuclear Magnetic Spectroscopy

How Shapal M enables Micro Nuclear Magnetic Spectroscopy

Shapal M is an essential material for heat dissipation during magic angle coil spinning. Find out more here!

Shapal M


Shapal M is a type of machinable glass ceramic that is based on a translucent form of aluminium nitride. It has an extremely high thermal conductivity and a very high mechanical strength. These are characteristics that make it a useful material for applications in the nuclear and vacuum industry sectors.


Like other machinable glass ceramics, such as Macor, Shapal M has a porosity of zero and very low out-gassing rates. However, unlike Macor, it is not as easy to machine using standard tools. It has to be machined using diamond tools, but tolerances below a micron can be achieved. Shapal M’s real advantages lie in its properties of not being affected either by etching plasmas or even ionizing radiation. It can also join easily to other materials, including metals. It can operate to temperatures of 1,900 degrees Celsius – much higher than Macor’s tolerance of high temperatures.

One of the most common applications of Shapal M is in magic angle coil spinning (MACS) in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy that is used in medical and research establishments – for example, in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. MACS has become a valuable tool for investigating small and semi-solid biological materials. It is a highly sensitive technique and can provide a very detailed analysis of small living specimens.

This technique analyses samples by spinning them at a specific angle, the magic angle, usually around 57.4 degrees, to a magnetic field. The magnetic spectrum that is generated from the sample is detected by a small electrical conductor called a microcoil, which is also spinning within the magnetic field.

The coil, usually made of copper, is a spiral, solenoid or helix-shaped wire whose dimensions are measured in tens or hundreds of microns. The small, delicate object is housed in a ceramic insert that could be formed of one, two or three chambers. The coil has to fit very snugly within the ceramic insert. This is an essential condition for a successful investigation, as it will ensure that the equipment will remain stable during the rapid spinning.

The Shapal ceramic acts both as a protection for the coil and a heat sink. As the coil spins within the magnetic field, it generates eddy currents and considerable heat. The ceramic allows the heat to dissipate from the coil.

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