MagnaPharm- Utilising high magnetic fields to direct polymorphism in pharmaceuticals

Utilising high magnetic fields to direct
polymorphism in pharmaceuticals,

At a glance: 

The MagnaPharm project aims to create controlled crystalline structures of pharmaceutical molecules through the use of high magnetic fields. This would have a transformative effect on almost all pharmaceutical compounds, and hence on society.

This collaborative research project is led by Dr Simon Hall, Reader in Materials Chemistry at the University of Bristol, and is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (grant No. 736899).


Polymorphism, the ability of solid materials to exist in two or more crystalline forms, can have a significant effect on the physicochemical properties of pharmaceuticals and therefore on therapeutic outcomes. 

It is therefore crucial that research into how to reliably produce polymorphic forms of different pharmaceuticals is conducted. 


The MagnaPharm project is developing a unique and extremely promising approach based on the innovative application of magnetic fields to organic crystal growth. 

Recent proof-of-principle experiments have produced an unknown polymorph of the polyaromatic hydrocarbon, coronene, in a magnetic field. The new β‑coronene crystal is the lowest energy polymorph and exhibits a remarkably altered angle between the molecular planes. This provides evidence that prior to crystal growth, strong magnetic fields couple to organic molecules and enable the orientation of pre-crystallisation clusters of different polymorphs in solution. 


The results of this preliminary experiment are the first concrete step towards reliable production of desired polymorphs of pharmaceutical compounds. Applying this magnetic field approach to crystal growth in pharmaceuticals will transform the industry irrevocably and for the better.

KCMC support:

KCMC supported the project by helping to establish industry collaborations and secure European funding. Thanks to KCMC’s established network of contacts, a partnership with AstraZeneca was set up whereby solubility testing will be performed on the materials produced as part of the project.


Ongoing, started in 2017. The research stage will finish in two years’ time.