Research

Mass Spectrometry

Forensics

Our lab is focused on improving the analysis of chemicals of forensic interest. Using a state-of-the art microfluidics extraction device (built in house), we are facilitating the analysis of trace amounts of dye on fibers under 1mm in length. We are also developing methods for the differentiation of real and counterfeit drugs using high resolution tandem mass spectrometry and dopant incorporation. Lastly, we are exploring identification of commercial inks on questioned documents using samples of 1mm or less.

Biofuels

In collaboration with the Department of Forestry and Biomaterials, we are characterizing lignocellulosic biofuel refinery byproducts. Our goal is to optimize the pretreatment process for more energy-rich products as well as to enhance the economic and environmental viability of the biofuel refinery scheme. We are currently using high resolution tandem mass spectrometry in conjunction with ionization dopants to improve the characterization of highly complex mixtures. We are also exploring small molecule quantitation to determine the viability of bio-oil additives for use in diesel.

Dyes

Our studies focus on commercial acidic, disperse, and reactive dye structure elucidation for quality control purposes. Currently we are synthesizing and characterizing dimeric and trimeric reactive dyes to achieve a more economically dyeing process. We are also pursuing reactive dye extraction and identification for the purpose of degradation studies. A new collaboration is forming with the Department of Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry among others to study the antimicrobial properties of dyes found in naturally occurring biomaterials. Finally, we are creating a high resolution tandem mass spectrometry database for the recently donated Max Weaver Dye Library from Eastman Chemicals, which includes close to a hundred thousand previously unstudied commercial dyes.

Carbohydrates

Our group is studying cyclodextrin inlcusion complexes together with flame retardants and dyes for industrial applications with MALDESI together with high resolution mass spectrometry. The analysis will give us a rapid method for confirmation of the formation of inclusion complexes, which eliminate toxic leakage of flame retardant chemicals from garments.