High-resolution 17O solid-state NMR as a unique probe for investigating oxalate binding modes in materials: The case study of calcium oxalate biominerals

15 March 2024, Version 2


Oxalate ligands are found in many classes of materials, including energy-storage materials and biominerals like hydrated calcium-oxalates. Determining their local environments at the atomic scale is thus paramount to establishing the structure and properties of numerous phases. Here, we show that high-resolution 17O solid-state NMR is a valuable asset for investigating the structure of crystalline oxalate systems. First, an efficient 17O-enrichment procedure of oxalate ligands is demonstrated using mechanochemical saponification. Then, the use of 17O-enriched oxalates for the synthesis of the biologically relevant calcium-oxalate monohydrate (COM) phase is presented, enabling the analysis of its structure and heat-induced phase transitions by high-resolution 17O solid-state NMR. NMR studies of the low-temperature COM form (LT-COM), using magnetic fields varying from 9.4 to 35.2 T, as well as 13C-17O MQ/D-RINEPT and 17O{1H} MQ/REDOR experiments, enabled the 8 inequivalent oxygen sites of the oxalate ligands to be resolved, with a tentative assignment proposed. Then, the structural changes occurring upon heat treatment of COM were followed by high-resolution 17O solid-state NMR, providing new insight into the structures of the high-temperature form (HT-COM) and anhydrous calcium oxalate alpha-phase (alpha-COA), including the presence of structural disorder in the latter case. Overall, this work highlights the ease associated with 17O-isotopic enrichment of oxalate oxygens, and how it enables the study of oxalate structures (including materials of biological relevance) at high-resolution via solid-state NMR, in the frame of “NMR-crystallography” investigations.


solid-state NMR
calcium oxalate
NMR crystallography
phase transition

Supplementary materials

Supporting information
Complementary characterizations (ssNMR, pXRD, IR, MS...), computational details, and additional representations of the Ca-oxalate forms


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