Advancing Environmental, Biological, Food, and Forensic Analyses

Our research addresses development of new approaches to understand and control formation and reactions of gas-phase ions. We conduct these investigations with applications in three main areas:

  1. Absolute quantification of small and large molecules: elemental quantification provides label-free absolute quantification of small and large molecules. Current elemental mass spectrometric methods, however, are not sensitive for analyzing trace organic compounds due to poor ionization of non-metals. We study ionization mechanisms and have developed a new approach for efficient ionization of non-metals in organic molecules. Our elemental quantification approach provides information regarding distribution of compounds and their degradation/metabolic products and pathways.

  2. Ultra-soft ionization and structural analysis: we have developed a new ion-mobility mass spectrometry technique to investigate the formation of gas phase ions from charged droplets. These studies offer new insights into electrospray ionization and provide an avenue to investigate fragile structures and weak chemical interactions that play critical roles in biological and environmental processes.

  3. Trace elemental speciation for forensic analysis: plasma assisted reaction chemical ionization developed in our group offers trace detection of halogens and other non-metals in complex samples. We harness this capability to utilize organohalogens as forensic tracers.

See publications page for updates on our studies in these areas.