Skip to main content
National Deuteration Facility
Our facilities

National Deuteration Facility


The National Deuteration Facility is the only facility of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. It is partially funded by the National Research Infrastructure for Australia initiative. This unique facility offers molecular deuteration using both in vivo biodeuteration and chemical deuteration techniques.

Deuteration enables investigation of the relationship between molecular structure and function of molecules of both biological and synthetic origin for the benefit of the science community and the Australian community at large.

How it works

Deuteration involves the production of molecules where all or part of the molecular hydrogen is in the form of the stable (non-radioactive) isotope deuterium (2H or D).

Hydrogen and deuterium


The National Deuteration Facility is partly supported by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy – an initiative of the Australian Government.

Enabled by

NCRIS version 2

More than 200 different molecules labelled

A broad range of molecules are deuterated for research and materials modification. A catalogue of selected molecules is available here.

User access

Two proposal rounds per year,
March & September. For access to the user portal, click here.

Enabling molecular research

Greater contrast and improved resolution for neutron scattering, NMR and mass spectrometry


Biodeuteration Karyn Wilde using fermenter



Biodeuteration involves the growth of microorganisms (commonly E. coli) in a heavy water (D2O) culture medium supplemented with either a deuterated or hydrogenated food source, depending on the level of deuteration required. The biomass is harvested and the deuterated molecule (such as a protein) is purified and characterised. 

Find out more

Chemical deuteration

Chemical deuteration

Chemical deuteration involves deuterating whole molecules or building blocks for the synthesis of a desired molecule by exposing them to D2O at high temperatures and pressures in the presence of a catalyst. If required, compounds can then be synthesised from the deuterated building blocks using organic chemistry techniques.

Find out more


  • Biopolymers and biotechnology

    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.


  • Drug delivery

    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.


  • Energy and gas adsorption materials

    Energy and gas adsorption materials

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


  • Food-lipid digestion

    Food-lipid digestion

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


  • Mechanistic studies

    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.

  • Molecular electronics

    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.

  • Structural biology

    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. 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.

  • Thin film nanotech devices

    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.

  • CT scan for imaging

    Stability for drug metabolism

    Deuteration can help stabilise drug molecules, reducing unfavourable metabolism in the body. This can be utilised for stabilising imaging agents and radiotracers.

Key contacts

The full list of National Deuteration Facility staff can be found here

Dr Tamim Darwish

Leader, National Deuteration Facility


Proposals for user access are submitted through the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering Customer Portal.
There are two submission rounds each year, that close in March and September.
For all enquiries please contact:
A fact sheet on access and proposal submission is available for download: