Sci Adv 7 (18) - [2021-04-00; online 2021-04-30]
Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) is a widely used tool for overcoming the low intrinsic sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging. Its practical applicability is typically bounded, however, by the so-called "spin diffusion barrier," which relates to the poor efficiency of polarization transfer from highly polarized nuclei close to paramagnetic centers to bulk nuclei. A quantitative assessment of this barrier has been hindered so far by the lack of general methods for studying nuclear polarization flow in the vicinity of paramagnetic centers. Here, we fill this gap and introduce a general set of experiments based on microwave gating that are readily implemented. We demonstrate the versatility of our approach in experiments conducted between 1.2 and 4.2 K in static mode and at 100 K under magic angle spinning (MAS)-conditions typical for dissolution DNP and MAS-DNP-and directly observe the marked dependence of polarization flow on temperature.