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The Jackson Group
Department of Forensic and Investigative Science

Research

Outline

Our long-term goal is to catalyze the progress of biomedical, analytical and forensic research through the development of mass spectrometric instrumentation. More specifically, we develop fast chromatographic methods, new ion sources and new ways of performing tandem mass spectrometry. Once the capabilities of the new devices and methods are understood, controlled and optimized, selected applications are sought to demonstrate the benefits of the new instrumentation to the broader scientific community. Click on the projects below to learn more.

Additional projects include the development of charge tansfer dissociation (William Hoffmann) and DART ions source development (Bohiu Lv).

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Research Projects


1) NEW TYPE OF MINIATURE PORTABLE MASS SPECTROMETER

mini mas spectrometer

This project aims to develop a hand-portable mass spectrometer with several major benefits over existing portable mass spectrometers. One of the expected benefits is the ability to operate above 1 mbar (0.75 Torr), which overcomes the requirement for a turbo- or ion-pump. The instrument will have a robust and flexible ion source that can analyze gas-phase neutrals—such as volatile organic compounds and chemical warfare agents—or gas-phase ions at atmospheric pressure—such as ions formed via desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) or direct analysis in real-time (DART) ion sources.

The portable mass spectrometer is expected to offer superior resolution to portable ion mobility spectrometers, which are the current instruments of choice for screening protocols at most US airports. In addition to constructing and developing the mass spectrometer system, this project will also develop the software required to run the instrument and record and interpret the data. The ability to offer on-site analyses for a wide variety of compounds could lead to new and important information regarding national security, crimes, human health and our environment.

Students: Zack Sasiene and Taylor Krivenki

Past Funding source: NSF CAREER: 0745590 & 1339153


2) METASTABLE ATOM-ACTIVATED DISSOCIATION (MAD) AND CHARGE TRANSFER DISSOCIATION (CTD) FOR BIOLOGICAL MASS SPECTROMETRY

metastable atom

We have successfully developed new instruments for the fragmentation of gas-phase polypeptide ions to complement existing mass-spectrometric methods for proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. These novel methods of ion activation rely on the transfer of energy from electrically excited metastable atoms to specific bonds within the polypeptide ions, or the transfer of a charge from a helium cation to a biological gas-phase cation. Due to the unique manners of energy transfer, these new activation methods are expected to provide some complementary features for gas-phase interrogation of bioogical ions.

Students: Pengfei Li, Bohui Lv

Funding source: NIH 1R01GM114494-01 (PI Stephen Valentine, WVU)


3) NEW FORENSIC APPLICATIONS FOR ISOTOPE RATIO MASS SPECTROMETRY (IRMS)

bulk beard trimmings

Compound specific isotope ratios (CSIR) can provide unique insights into the sources of materials of forensic interest. For example, CSIR can be used to trace the origins of cocaine to within specific growing regions in South America, or to determine the common sources of high explosives. We will be using our newly-acquired LC-IRMS to determine the common sources of analytes that are expected to have high impact in the forensic community. Mayara is currently using the instrument to establish new methods of discriminating between hair of different human origin.

Students: Mayara V.P. de Matos, Billy Hoffmann

Funding source: DOJ NIJ 2013-DN-BX-K007