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Professor Malcolm H Levitt 

Professor of Physical Chemistry

Professor Malcolm H Levitt's photo

Prof Malcolm Levitt joined the School of Chemistry at the University of Southampton in 2000, as Professor in Physical Chemistry. His main research area is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), in which he has won several international prizes and has written a well-received textbook.

“Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is well known in the form of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), where it is used routinely for medical scanning. But NMR is a much wider field than MRI, and is still under intensive development. I particularly like NMR as a research field since it combines deep principles of quantum mechanics with numerous real-world applications, including chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and medicine.”



Malcolm Levitt grew up in Hull and obtained his PhD from Oxford University in 1981, under the supervision of Professor Ray Freeman. He performed postdoctoral research with Shimon Vega in Israel and Richard Ernst at the ETH in Zürich (who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991). He was then on the research staff at the Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory at MIT, Boston, USA, for 4 years. He moved back to England as a Royal Society Research Fellow at the Centre for Superconductivity in Cambridge, before becoming a lecturer at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, where he was made a full professor in 1997. He moved back to England to take up a Professorship in Physical Chemistry at Southampton in April 2001. 

Malcolm was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007. He won the LATSIS research prize of the ETH-Zürich in 1985, the Göran Gustafsson prize in Chemistry in 1996, the Ampère prize from the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in 2005, the Günther Laukien prize in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in 2008, the Russell Varian prize in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in 2015, and the Paul Callaghan lecture (awarded by the International Society of Magnetic Resonance) in 2019. He is on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Journal of Magnetic Resonance and the Journal of Chemical Physics. He published Spin Dynamics, a textbook on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, in 2001. The second Edition was published in 2007.

Apart from science, he composes music, plays jazz, paints and sketches, and is interested in art, languages and politics.



Research interests

Our group develops new experimental techniques in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and applies those techniques to systems of interest in biology and materials science. For example, we have developed new NMR techniques for determining the atomic-scale structure in non-crystalline solids, and have applied those methods to the membrane protein rhodopsin and to the class of inorganic network solids called zeolites. We are currently working on extending solid-state NMR to the study of samples at very low temperatures, which will allow us to achieve higher signal strength and allow the study of cryogenic physical phenomena such as quantum rotation by NMR. We have also demonstrated the existence of nuclear spin states with unusually long lifetimes in room-temperature liquids, and are currently exploring the possibilities of exploiting such long-lived nuclear spin states for NMR imaging.

Research keywords

Nuclear magnetic resonance. Pulse sequences. Structural biology. Membrane proteins. Spin dynamics. Nuclear singlet states. Endohedral fullerenes. Rhodopsin.

Research funding

2014-2018, "Molecular Endofullerenes: Nanoscale dipoles, rotors and oscillators", EPSRC, £1.03M

2012-2013 "Fast Sample Shuttle Probe for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance", Royal Society, £72k

2012-2016 "Hyperpolarized Singlet NMR", ERC Advanced Grant, £2.4M

2012-2014 "Laboratory for Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging", Royal Society, £393k

2011-2014 "Hyperpolarized Nuclear Singlet States", EPSRC, £1.4M (with Prof R. Brown, University of Southampton)

2011-2017 "A UK Magnetic Resonance Basic Technology Centre for Doctoral Training", £3.96M (with Universities of Warwick, St Andrews, Dundee, Nottingham and Aberdeen)

2011-2014 "Magnetic Resonance of Dihydrogen Endofullerenes", EPSRC, £606k (with Prof. A. J. Horsewill, University of Nottingham)

2009-2013 "Singlet nuclear magnetic resonance: from theory to practice", Leverhulme Trust, £249k

2007-2009 "Long-lived spin states in nuclear magnetic resonance", EPSRC, £348k.

2007-2010 "Multiple-spin recoupling in nuclear magnetic resonance", EPSRC, £450k.

2005-2009 "Cryogenic magic-angle-spinning NMR", Basic Technology Program, RCUK, £2.81M. Collaborative grant with Prof. P. J. F. Henderson, Department of Biochemistry, University of Leeds; Dr. A. Horsewill, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham; Dr. M. Grossel, School of Chemistry, University of Southampton; Prof. Y. Yang, School of Engineering, University of Southampton; Dr. J. Werner, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton.

2005-2008 "Multiple-quantum 17O NMR in solids", Royal Society, £15.5k. Collaborative grant with Dr. P. K. Madhu, Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India.


Research group

Magnetic Resonance

Research project(s)

Levitt: Cryogenic Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

Levitt: Molecular Structure Determination by Solid-State NMR

Levitt: Solid-State NMR of Rhodopsin

Levitt: Long-lived Nuclear Singlet States

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Book Chapters


Professor Malcolm H Levitt
Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 27/2026

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