Research in Dr. Wu's Group

Our primary research interests are concerned with the development of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques in studying molecular structure, dynamics, and chemical bonding in chemically and biologically important systems. Currently, we are focused on new NMR methods for detecting 17O NMR signals in organic and biological molecules as well as in live cells. So why do we care about 17O NMR?


Most chemists agree that NMR has revolutionized, over the past six decades, not only chemical science but also other disciplines such as molecular biology and medical diagnostics. However, nearly all of the successful NMR applications to date have relied on the detection of atomic nuclei with the smallest non-zero nuclear spin number (I = 1/2) (i.e., 1H, 13C, 15N, and 31P). Any second-year chemistry undergraduate student, after having taken my course on "Organic Spectroscopy", must have the following question lingering in mind but was afraid of asking: "Why didn't we learn any NMR about oxygen, since it is among the most abundant elements found in organic and biological molecules? Indeed, the oxygen element remains the only one that has not been readily accessible by NMR. So why not? This is primarily because oxygen has only one stable isotope that is NMR-active, 17O. This particular isotope is exceedingly hard to find in nature (natural abundance = 0.037%). In comparison, 1H is everywhere (natural abundance = 99.9%). Furthermore, this isotope of oxygen has an unusual nuclear spin number (I = 5/2). Any atomic nucleus with I > 1/2 is called being "quadrupolar" (or "naughty" in layman's language). The reason quadrupolar nuclei are "naughty" is that they often give rise to very broad NMR signals. That is, it is difficult to extract any useful chemical information from their NMR spectra.


Now if we view organic and biological molecules as jigsaw puzzles made out of four kinds of pieces (H, C, N, and O elements), so far chemists are solving molecular puzzles without the capability of "seeing" one quart of the O pieces! The goal of our current research is to make these missing O pieces "visible". Would that make the molecular game a little easier?


Group News ...


Oct 27th 2019

Sherry won the Solid-State NMR Young Scientist Award at the 32nd MOOT NMR conference in Ottawa. Congratulations Sherry, beautiful work!

Sept 26th 2019

Betty has successfully defended her Master thesis, congratulations Betty!

Jun 19 2019

Jiahui and Sherry won the Best Oral Presentation Prizes while Betty won the Best Poster Prize at the CSC. Congratulations!


Jun 5 2019

Wu group (Dr. Wu, Jiahui, Sherry and Betty) presented at the 102 nd CSC conference at the beautiful Quebec city!

May 22 2019

Abouzar completed the Ph.D defense on May 22nd. Congratulations!


May 14 2019

Sherry passed the candidacy exam on May 7. Congratulations!


Jan 11 2019

Jiahui's work on 59Co QCT NMR of cobalamins has just been published as a cover article in ChemPhysChem!

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October 21 2018

Wu group (Jiahui, Sherry, Betty and James) presented at the 2018 MOOT conference at Sherbrook, Quebec, and Betty won the poster award, congratulations Betty! Awesome work!


September 05 2018

Andrew just got a teaching position at Coast Mountain College, congratulations Professor Rinald!


September 05 2018

Betty just won the first year William Patrick Doolan TA award, congratulations!


February 22 2018

The first 17O QCT spectrum obtained on a world-record SCH magnet (35.2 T) was published! Thanks to Jiahui for making the 17O-labeled glucose sample.

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Nov 14th 2017

Sherry did her convocation today, congratulations Sherry!

Oct 1st 2017

Wu group presented at the 30th MOOT conference and Andrew gave a talk on "Using solid state 17O NMR and computational methods to determine epoxide NMR tensor orientations".


September 20th 2017

Welcome Jeffery Lu, the fourth year chemistry student to join our group for his fourth year thesis project!


June 15th 2017

Welcome Rebecca Tian, the second year biochemistry student to join our group this summer!


May 28th 2017

Wu group attended the 100th conference and Dr. Wu gave a presentation on "Hydrogen Bonding Energy, Molecular Motion, and Solid-state 17O NMR".


May 2nd 2017

Welcome Neil Sengupta, the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award holder, to join our group this summer!


April 21rd 2017

Professor Wu has the article featured in the Royal Society of Chemistry special issue in honour of the 100th Canadian Chemsitry Conference and Exhibition! Congratulations!

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March 23rd 2017

Congratulations to Abouzar Toubaei on receiving the Christopher Knapper Teaching Award!

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Oct 2nd 2016

A portion of Wu Group (Jiahui, Sherry, Andrew and Betty) did presentation and posters at PEI on MOOT 29 nmr conference, a lot was learned and had a lot of fun! Seafood was super yummy! :D


Sept 12nd 2016

Jiahui won the Most Outstanding Oral Presentation award in 9th Annual Graduate Symposium, congratulations!


Sept 22nd 2016

Jiahui just passed her master defence today, congratulations!


Aug 22nd 2016

A new paper in our lab titled "Observation of the Second-Order Quadrupolar Interaction as a Dominating NMR Relaxation Mechanism in Liquids: The Ultraslow Regime of Motion"just published on the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters! Congrats!

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June 23rd 2016

Dr. Wu just won the 2016 NSERC Discovery Grant! Congrats!

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May 02nd 2016

Welcome Andrew Rinald, the new M.Sc. candidate, to join in our group! Hope you have a great year to come!


Oct 26th 2015

Our lab have recently used 17O NMR, together with other analytical techniques, to determine the molecular structures of two intensely colored intermediates in the Gmelin reaction in which nitroprusside and sulfide are combined in aqueous solution. This study has solved a 170-year-old mystery about the true identities of these colorful but rather unstable intermediates. The discovery has been published in Chem. Eur. J. and highlighted in the latest issue of C&EN. Congratulations!



Oct 24th 2015

Jiahui and Betty did a poster at the MOOT NMR conference, good work!


Sept 7th 2015

Welcome Sherry Dai, the new M.Sc. candidate, to join in our group! Hope you have a great year to come!


Aug 15th 2015

Andrew Wu finished his summer research today and will start his new semester soon, how time flies!


July 27th 2015

Dr. Gao left our lab today and will start her faculty career in China, Congratulations Dr. Gao!


July 1st 2015

Dr. Kong will start a new journey in Montreal after leave our lab today. All the best wishes to you!


May 27th 2015

Abouzar passed the candidacy exam on May 27. Congratulations!


Mar 23rd 2015

Dr. Kong's and Abouzar's paper on platinum anticancer drugs has been accepted for publication in Canadian Journal of Chemistry. Congratulations!


Jan 23rd 2015

Dr. Kong's paper on "solid-state 17O NMR of paramagnetic coordination compounds" has just been accepted for publication in Angewandte Chemie. Well done, Dr. Kong!


Jan 17th 2015

Dr. Kong's paper on N-acyl imidazoles has been accepted for publication in a special issue of Canadian Journal of Chemistry in honoring Professor Stan Brown. Congratulations Dr. Kong!


Jan 15th 2015

Former group member, Dr. Jianfeng (Peter) Zhu, has joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Sheffield, UK, as the NMR facility manager.


Sept 8th 2014

Welcome Jiahui Shen, the new M.Sc. candidate, to join in our group! Hope you have a great year to come!


Aug 13th 2014

Dr. Yin Gao has just got her paper published in Angewandte Chemie. Congratulations Dr. Gao!


Contact Information

Office: CHE408

NMR Room: CHE115

Lab: CHE438

Mailing Address:

Department of Chemistry,

Queen's University,

90 Bader Lane Kingston,

Ontario, Canada

K7L 3N6

Research contact:


Website contact: