Nuclear Singlet Relaxation by Chemical Exchange

12 August 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The population imbalance between nuclear singlet states and triplet states of strongly coupled spin-1/2 pairs, also known as nuclear singlet order, is well protected against several common relaxation mechanisms. We study the nuclear singlet relaxation of 13C pairs in aqueous solutions of 1,2-13C2 squarate, over a range of pH values. The 13C singlet order is accessed by introducing 18O nuclei in order to break the chemical equivalence. The squarate dianion is in chemical equilibrium with hydrogen-squarate (SqH−) and squaric acid (SqH2) characterised by the dissociation constants pKa1 = 1:5 and pKa2 = 3:4. Surprisingly, we observe a striking increase in the singlet decay time constants TS when the pH of the solution exceeds ~ 10, which is far above the acid-base equilibrium points. We derive general rate expressions for chemical-exchange-induced nuclear singlet relaxation and provide a qualitative explanation of the TS behaviour of the squarate dianion. We identify a kinetic contribution to the singlet relaxation rate constant which depends explicitly on kinetic rate constants. Qualitative agreement is achieved between the theory and the experimental data. This study shows that infrequent chemical events may have a strong effect on the relaxation of nuclear singlet order.


nuclear magnetic resonance
long-lived states
squaric acid
chemical exchange
singlet states


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