Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy using personal computer-based hardware has the potential of enabling the application of NMR methods to fields where conventional state of the art equipment is either impractical or too costly. With such a strategy for data acquisition and processing, disciplines including civil engineering, agriculture, geology, archaeology, and others have the possibility of utilizing magnetic resonance techniques within the laboratory or conducting applications directly in the field. Another aspect is the possibility of utilizing existing NMR magnets which may be in good condition but unused because of outdated or nonrepairable electronics. Moreover, NMR applications based on personal computer technology may open up teaching possibilities at the college or even secondary school level. The goal of developing such a personal computer (PC)-based NMR standard is facilitated by existing technologies including logic cell arrays, direct digital frequency synthesis, use of PC-based electrical engineering software tools to fabricate electronic circuits, and the use of permanent magnets based on neodymium-iron-boron alloy. Utilizing such an approach, we have been able to place essentially an entire NMR spectrometer console on two printed circuit boards, with the exception of the receiver and radio frequency power amplifier. Future upgrades to include the deuterium lock and the decoupler unit are readily envisioned. The continued development of such PC-based NMR spectrometers is expected to benefit from the fast growing, practical, and low cost personal computer market.
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