Carbon-13 and nitrogen-15 are separated from their lighter isotopes by cryogenic distillation of CO and NO, thus all labeled carbons and nitrogens must ultimately be derived from these two compounds. The highly efficient conversion of CO and NO to useful chemical precursors is perhaps the most unique aspect of stable isotope labeling technology. Early in the history of stable isotope labeling at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a large amount of effort gave rise to efficient large-scale methods for the synthesis of methane, methanol, sodium formate, potassium cyanide, and carbon dioxide. These labeled precursors are the foundation of all labeling chemistry. However, since this early period very little effort has been spent in designing new isotopically labeled precursors. Over the last several years we have developed a large number (>75) of new isotopically labeled compounds that are very useful in all fields of science. This work has resulted in several patents and publications in the areas of bioscience, quantum computing, and forensic science.
As spectroscopic instrumentation and techniques continue to improve, the drive to study more complicated systems requires the use of these and other stable isotope labeled materials. This has fueled the demand for much more complex labeling patterns in molecules. In the past, the simple introduction of a labeled atom site-specifically without stereospecificity was the major thrust for the isotope industry, and the first generation of labeled synthons served this effort well. Increasingly in today’s labeling climate, in addition to the site-specific labeling, the burden of stereospecificity has been added to our requirements. This includes both the stereospecific labeling of chiral compounds as well as differentiating prochiral centers with deuterium or carbon-13. We have generated several solutions for these problems (SEE our CATALOG). We have developed a large number of synthons that will allow us to address these growing demands.