Applications of deuteration

This page lists some of the applications of deuteration ranging from biotechnology to energy and gas storage materials. 


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Biopolymers and biotechnology 

Deuterated biopolymers offer not only multiple options in creating structural contrast in polymer blends and composites in structural studies, but also insight into the biosynthetic pathways themselves. See example


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Drug delivery

Liquid crystalline systems based on lipids such as glycerol monooleate (GMO) are attracting interest for their potential as controlled release drug delivery agents.  Deuterated lipids have a role to play as subjects for neutron scattering experiments, to provide information about the structures, interactions, and kinetics of these systems. See example.

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Energy and gas storage materials

Deuterated materials enable the study of site-specific gas adsorption in metal-organic frameworks using neutron diffraction techniques. See example.


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Food-lipid digestion

Selectively deuterated triglycerides have been used to monitor chain migration and to investigate the stereoselectivity of lipase-catalysed hydrolysis of bonds. See example. 

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Mechanistic studies

Deuterium can be used as a marker to investigate reaction mechanisms. Mechanistic information can be derived by selectively deuterating sites of interest within a molecule and determining the final position of the deuterium atom post-reaction. See example

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Molecular electronics

For a number of organic molecules, the replacement of hydrogen with its stable isotope, deuterium, has been shown to increase optoelectronic device stability at high voltages; light efficiency; and device lifetime. See example.

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Structural biology

For neutron experiments with instruments such as SANS and neutron reflectometry, deuterium labelling of proteins enables neutron-visible contrast, enhancing the effectiveness of scattering techniques in providing selective information about protein structure and interaction in multicomponent systems. See example.

For NMR experiments, partial or full deuterium labelling of non-exchangeable hydrogens in proteins can substantially enhance spectral resolution and sensitivity for large proteins (>~30kDa) and for solid-state samples. See example  

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Thin film nanotech devices

The use of selected combinations of protonated and deuterated components provides contrast between the layers of OLEDs using neutron scattering techniques. See example.