Shelby Hall's foyer

Inside Shelby Hall, home of the UA Department of Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry’s labs, classrooms, and offices are well equipped to support our teaching, research, and service activities, with equipment, instrumentation, and other resources that are continuously updated and supported by highly trained faculty and staff. All of our primary facilities are located near the core of the University of Alabama campus, just a short walk or brief shuttle ride from residence halls, the student center, dining facilities, and parking.

Shelby Hall

computational chemistry lab

The UA Department of Chemistry’s computational chemistry lab

Completed in 2004, Shelby Hall is our department’s home. The 200,000-square-foot structure houses some of the most advanced research facilities in the nation. Shelby’s features include

  • 70 research labs
  • 5 teaching labs
  • 3 theater-style lecture halls
  • 40 offices for faculty and professional staff
  • 80 offices for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows
  • glassblowing shop

Science and Engineering Complex

Connected to Shelby Hall at Shelby’s southwest corner, the 212,000-square-foot Science and Engineering Complex (commonly abbreviated to “SEC”) contains interdisciplinary science classrooms, laboratories, support facilities, and a convenience store. Freshman chemistry labs meet here.

Rodgers Library for Science and Engineering

Just south of Shelby Hall and the SEC is the Rodgers Library, which offers more than 220,000 books and bound journals plus access to numerous specialized databases and electronic journals. The library is a popular place to study, with a silent zone on the second floor, plus individual and group study rooms that accommodate up to 12 students and feature wireless access and, in some rooms, whiteboards and smartboards. The Scholars’ Station serves as a gathering place for students to learn, create, and discover, as well as a place for teaching faculty and students how to use special databases, and other electronic resources. For more information about the library, visit www.lib.ua.edu/libraries/rodgers.


EPR facility

Electron paramagnetic resonance facility

The Department of Chemistry’s instrumentation is updated and expanded continuously to support our faculty members’ and students’ teaching and research. In addition to the major instrumentation listed here, a variety of other equipment — such as chromatographs, spectrometers, electrochemistry apparatus, and organic/biochemical synthesizers — is available to individual research groups.

Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR): This 1,300-square-foot laboratory features four state-of-the-art research instruments:

  • X-band/Q-band CW-EPR spectrometer: Varian E-12 EPR spectrometer with 9-GHz (X-band) and 35-GHz (Q-band) microwave bridges, rotating magnetic base, rapid scan accessories, a Varian Century series EPR system with 12 inch magnet. EPR data acquisition is provided by a PC (3 GHz running Windows XP) via the platform-independent data acquisition module (PIDAM) connected to the spectrometer.
  • X-band CW-ENDOR spectrometer: A Bruker-ESP 300-10/7 with an ESP 350-U DICE ENDOR/TRIPLE accessory and an A-500 RF power amplifier allows CW ENDOR measurements in the 0.3–35 MHz frequency range at temperatures from 100 K up to 350 K.
  • X-band pulsed-EPR spectrometer: Bruker ELEXSYS E-580 pulsed-EPR spectrometer includes the E-560D-pulse ENDOR and E-580-pulse ELDOR accessories. This allows us to operate echo-detected EPR, 2- and 3-pulse 1D ESEEM, 2D ESEEM (HYSCORE), pulsed ENDOR, pulsed ELDOR (DEER), inversion recovery and transient EPR at 9-10 GHz. We plan to add a TRIPLE accessory to the set-up soon. The X-band cavity has optical access and temperature of the cavity is maintained with a liquid-helium cryostat.
  • W-band CW/pulsed EPR/ENDOR spectrometer: Bruker ELEXSYS E-600 W-band (94 GHz) EPR spectrometer was acquired in 2002, and was upgraded in 2005 with an ELEXSYS E-580 pulse EPR spectrometer. The combined system is known as an E-680 W/X. This instrument was obtained through NSF MRI (W-band CW-EPR system) and the CRIF (pulsed EPR) Instrumentation Programs. At 94 GHz we can perform echo-detected EPR, 2- and 3-pulse 1D ESEEM, inversion recovery, transient EPR, and pulsed ENDOR in the frequency range from 1.5 to 400 MHz. The temperature of the cavity is maintained with a liquid-helium cryostat, and in situ irradiation of the cavity is possible using a fiber optical cable run down through the sample rod. The E-680 W/X system is controlled through a Linux workstation with Xepr, the EPR acquisition and data manipulation software.

Variable temperature attachments are available to perform in situ photolysis from 10 to 400 K using

  • Air Products LTD-3-110 Helitran variable temperature system
  • Oxford ESR-900 variable temperature system
  • Janis Super Varitemp Dewar with optical tail for carrying out UV/visible or X-ray irradiation from 2 to 300 K

UV/visible radiation sources for producing radical and excited intermediates include

  • Quantel/BRILLIANT Q-switched Nd:YAG laser (355nm, 532nm, 1064nm)
  • Questek 2540 VB Excimer laser
  • Spectra Physics 5200 B dye laser
  • Molectron pulsed nitrogen laser
  • Kratos variable wavelength (200-700 nm) 1-kW Hg/Xe system
    • High-pressure Hg arc lamp

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR): The department’s NMR facility houses regularly upgraded Bruker spectrometers operating at 600, 500, and 360 MHz. Our NMR instruments are capable of observing all magnetic nuclei between 103Rh and 1H, and current applications involve the more common 1H, 2H, 13C, 15N, 17O, 19F and 31P nuclides as well as studies of 11B, 23Na, 27Al, 29Si, 75As, 77Se, 125Te and 205Tl nuclides. The instruments are configured to employ pulse-sequences for multi-dimensional NMR experiments. The facility is maintained by a full-time PhD spectroscopist, Dr. Ken Belmore, who is available for consultation and assistance.  NMR resources page.

Mass spectrometry: The department possesses two magnetic sector instruments, a VG AutoSpec and a Waters Autospec NT. The VG instrument is equipped for electron ionization (EI) with solid probe insertion. The high-resolution Waters Autospec NT is equipped with an EI source, using GC (HP6890) inlet or solid probe insertion for sample introduction; it is capable of performing elemental analysis for small organic compounds.

The department has a Bruker Ultraflex time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer. Our researchers use matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) to vaporize and ionize samples, which are generally low-volatility compounds such as biomolecules, polymers, and inorganic materials. The mass spectrometer’s PSD (post-source decay) capabilities can be used to sequence biomolecules.

We also have a Bruker HCTUltra PTM discovery system connected to an Agilent 1200 capillary LC — a spherical high-capacity quadrupole ion trap. The HCTUltra PTM instrument has electrospray ionization (ESI), atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI), and nanoelectrospray sources. The MS/MS techniques of collision-induced dissociation (CID) and electron transfer dissociation (ETD) are available for obtaining structural information (including peptide sequencing).

Services offered by our mass-spec facility include the following:

  • EI-MS: low resolution, nominal mass accuracy; high resolution, with internal reference (typically PFK), 5 ppm accuracy; or small volatile organic compounds (<1000 Da)
  • GC-MS: low resolution, nominal mass accuracy
  • GC-MS: high resolution, with internal reference (typically PFK), 5 ppm accuracy; for small volatile organic compounds (<1000 Da); house GC capillary column: DB-5, 29m´250mm´0.5mm
  • MALDI-MS: linear TOF, low resolution, <150 ppm external clibration, <100 ppm for internal calibration; reflector TOF, high resolution, <25 ppm external calibration, <5 ppm internal calibration; wide applications including biomolecules, polymers, aromatic compound, and inorganic material
  • ESI, APCI, nanoESI-MS: low resolution, mass error within 0.2 Da; for small molecules (>50 Da) or macromolecules (m/z of the multiply charged ions <3000 Da); wide applications including biomolecules, organics, and polymers
  • LC-MS: low resolution, mass error within 0.2 Da; house capillary LC column: Agilent ZORBAX SB-C18, 150´0.5 mm, 5mm; mostly used for peptides

X-ray diffraction: We maintain a facility for determining crystal structures of compounds of interest to members of the department. Use of the our Siemens CCD SMART (Area Detector) and Enraf-Nonius CAD-4 computer-controlled X-ray diffractometers permits the structural solution of approximately 500 crystal structures per year.

Surface characterization: Housed in the Bevill Building northeast of Shelby Hall is a Kratos Axis 165 SAM/XPS system used by the chemistry department and the Materials for Information Technology (MINT) program. The system is a multi-technique surface science tool capable of performing scanning electron microscopy and Auger mapping of surfaces on the nanometer scale. The system, which consists of an ultrahigh vacuum (<10-9 Torr) sample transfer and analysis chambers onto which the analytical equipment is mounted, also has an X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy attachment that allows identification of the surface composition and the oxidation states of many elements.

Central Analytical Facility: Located primarily in the Bevill Building, this University of Alabama facility houses a variety of instruments used by chemistry department and Materials for Information Technology researchers, including transmission electron and scanning electron microscopes. More information can be found at the CAF web site.