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We think of mass spectrometry as the science and technology of ions. Our interests therefore involve construction of mass spectrometers, fundamental studies of ion reactions and collision processes and applications to medicine, biochemistry and organic chemistry. A central current interest is in ambient ionization and its application in imaging tumor margins, monitoring therapeutic drugs in biofluids, following embryological development, and identifying microorganisms. Each of these experiments involves minimal sample workup. Another strong interest is in preparative mass spectrometry, both by soft landing ions onto surfaces in vacuum to generate new materials and also by collecting the products of solution-phase reactions occurring in electrospray droplets. In situ analysis using miniature mass spectrometers coupled to ambient ion sources for environmental, public safety and other applications is of interest. So, too, is on-line reaction monitoring. Ion chemistry is astonishingly rich as exemplified by nitrogen atom insertion into n-alkanes, chirally selective amino acid clustering and C-C bond formation, all being studied at atmospheric pressure.

Research Focus

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Fundamentals/ Concepts



Imaging of Surface Charge and the Mechanism of Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry, Gao et al., J. Phys. Chem. C, 2009  Miniature Mass Spectrometers, Ouyang and Cooks, Annual Review of Analytical Chemistry, 2009 Direct, trace level detection of explosives on ambient surfaces by desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, Takats et al., Chem. Comm., 2005

Latest News

8th CAID Workshop: Mass Spectrometry in the Clinic and Surgery--- Sept 13th - 15th, 2015 @ Aston Labs, Purdue University. more information

2015 Astonites Gathering Hello Astonites, we will have an Astonite reunion during ASMS this year to celebrate Professor Cooks' selection to the National Academy of Sciences. The gathering at ASMS is on Sunday, May 31 at 9:00 PM in the Gateway Ballroom and Terrace at the Hyatt Regency, St Louis at the Arch. (Address is: 315 Chestnut St, St Louis, MO 63102). See you there!

Congratulations to Professor Cooks on his selection to the National Academy of Sciences--- April 30th, 2015. The Aston Labs are proud to congratulate Professor Cooks on his selection to the National Academy of Sciences. Professor Cooks is a pioneer in the conception and implementation of MS/MS and of desorption ionization. These interests led to the construction of miniature ion trap mass spectrometers and their application to problems of trace chemical detection. Some inventions and concepts to which Graham Cooks has contributed are ion desorption electrospray ionization, soft landing, neutral loss scans, the use of matrices in ionization, multiple reaction monitoring (MRM), hybrid mass spectrometers, handheld mass spectrometers, the kinetic method of thermochemical determination, and MS/MS for mixture analysis. more information

7th CAID Workshop: Instrumentation for Forensics, Nanoscience and Pharmaceutical Science--- Sept 7th - 9th, 2014 @ Aston Labs, Purdue University. The workshop is to showcase novel technologies expanding from analytical and organic chemistry to forensics, nanoscience and pharmaceutical science, to provide attendees the chances to engage in several experiments where they will gain the hands-on experience, and to have attendees the opportunities to interact with the leaders in the fields. more information The meeting is no cost but please register here!

The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014--- R. Graham Cooks, the Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, has been selected to the New York-based Thomson Reuters’ list of "The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014". The honor recognizes researchers around the world who have earned distinction by publishing the highest number of articles that rank among the most frequently cited by fellow researchers. Also on the list from Purdue are professors in engineering and agriculture: David J. Love, Mark S. Lundstrom, Kinam Park, Zhixiang Chen, Jian-Kang Zhu, and Angus S. Murphy. more information

Intensive Short Course on Mass Spectrometry for Undergraduates--- During the two day short course (September 22 & 23, 2013) at the CAID meeting, undergraduates from different universities performed a traditional bulk phase reaction and preparative mass spectrometry via paperspray in a laboratory setting. more information

Mass Spectrometric Synthesis in the Undergraduate Organic Lab---Undergraduate laboratories teach traditional means of organic synthesis followed by chemical and spectroscopic analysis to impart an understanding of chemical reactivity. In some undergraduate organic labs, MS has been introduced but only in its traditional role as an analytical method. Recent findings from Professor Cooks’ group show chemical synthesis can be performed in charged microdroplets by spraying reaction mixtures. Reaction acceleration has been observed when ionization is done by electrospray or paper spray. This provides a simple and easy platform to access chemical reactivity. Chemistry 266 students this spring were the first to utilize this new synthetic method in an undergraduate organic lab. more information

Congratulations to our 2013 Student Award Recipients!
Joshua Wiley – DOE Fellowship, T. W. Keough Graduate ScholarRyan Espy – ACS Analytical Chemistry Fellowship
Anyin Li – College of Science Graduate Student international travel awardPu Wei – Amy Travel Award
Xin Yan – Eastman FellowshipMichael Stanley Wleklinski – PRF Student Fellowship
Christopher J Pulliam – HARSH Student Travel AwardShi Choong – William Epple Teaching Award

The 1st International Mass Spectrometry School (IMSS) will be held in Sienna, Italy from September 15-20,2013. IMSS 2013 is a six day full immersion school aimed to give advanced education in mass spectrometry to graduate, PhD, post-doc students, and young working in the areas of chemistry, biosciences, food, environment, and medicine. Lecturers will include R. Graham Cooks, Richard Caprioli, Marcos Eberlin, and many more. more information

Hello Astonites, it is that time of year again when several of us will have the opportunity to see each other and catch up on the years events at ASMS. The conference is in Minneapolis, MN, June 9-13, 2013. This year, we will try and have an Astonite reunion near the Prosolia booth during the opening reception Sunday evening (June 9)! See you there!

Prof. R. Graham Cooks was announced as the 2013 winner of the Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences. The Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences is awarded to an individual in a selected area of chemistry to recognize exceptional and original research that has advanced the field in a major way. Cooks was nominated for his impact in mass spectrometry and instrumentation development, which he has conducted in the Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry since 1976."I am particularly pleased by the fact that the Foundation chose Chemical Instrumentation as the topic of the prize," Cooks stated, "because it is an emphatic recognition of the importance of instrumentation in the chemical enterprise. This has been one focus of the chemistry research effort at Purdue for some 50 years, so the 2013 Prize is a recognition of the subject and the institution, more than an individual." more information

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recognized the R. B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on Friday, April 26, 2013. Named after local physician and lecturer Dr. Richard Benbridge Wetherill, the building was constructed in phases between 1928 and 1955 to accommodate a growing Department of Chemistry. The building has served as a center for chemical education and research in the United States for more than 80 years. Advances made in the building include developments in vapor-phase nitration of saturated hydrocarbons, palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling, tandem mass spectrometry, and the discovery of hydroboration and its application to numerous synthetic pathways.more information
ScienceLives article: The Man Behind the Technology of "CSI" R. Graham Cooks, Purdue University's Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, has made mass spectrometry appeal to mass audiences with technology featured on the hit series "CSI." Mass spectrometry turns molecules into ions so their mass can be analyzed, and traditionally requires chemical separations, manipulations of samples and containment in a vacuum chamber. Cooks developed a desorption electrospray ionization technique, called DESI, that performs the ionization step in the air or directly on surfaces, making it much faster and more portable.

Latest Publications

  • Li, A.; Hollerbach, A.; Luo, Q.; Cooks, R. G. “On-Demand Ambient Ionization of Picoliter Samples Using Charge Pulses. ”  Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 6893-6895. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201501895
  • Jjunju, F. P. M.; Maher, S.; Li, A.; Syed, S. U.; Smith, B.; Heeren, R. M. A.; Taylor, S.; Cooks, R. G. “Hand-Held Portable Desorption Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization Ion Source for in Situ Analysis of Nitroaromatic Explosives. ”  Anal. Chem. 2015, 87, 10047-10055.DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b02684
  • A. K. Jarmusch,K. S. Kerian, V.Pirro, T. Peat, C. A. Thompson, J. A. Ramos-Vara, M. O. Childressc, R. G. Cooks“Characteristic lipid profiles of canine non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from surgical biopsy tissue sections and fine needle aspirate smears by desorption electrospray ionization – mass spectrometry”  Analyst, 2015,140,6321-6329. DOI: 10.1039/C5AN00825E
  • M. Wleklinski, D. Sarkar, A. Hollerbach, T. Pradeepb, R. G. Cooks“Ambient preparation and reactions of gas phase silver cluster cations and anions”  Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2015,17,18364-18373. DOI: 10.1039/C5CP01538C
  • M. Wleklinski#, Y. Li#, S. Bag, D. Sarkar, R. Narayanan, T. Pradeep, R. G. Cooks“Zero Volt Paper Spray and Its Mechanism”  Anal. Chem., 2015,on-line. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.5b01225
  • R. Graham Cooks, Alan K. Jarmusch, Michael Wleklinski“Direct analysis of complex mixtures by mass spectrometry”  Int.J. Mass Spectrom., 2015, 377,709-718. DOI:10.1016/j.aca.2015.01.007
  • Soumabha Bag, P.I. Hendricks, J.C. Reynolds, R. G. Cooks, “Biogenic Aldehyde Determination by Reactive Paper Spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry”  Anal. Chim. Acta, 2015, 860,37-42. DOI:10.1016/j.aca.2015.01.007
  • Valentina Pirro, Alan K. Jarmusch, Marco Vincent, R. G. Cooks, “Direct drug analysis from oral fluid using medical swab touch spray mass spectrometry”  Anal. Chim. Acta, 2015, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2015.01.008
  • R. M. Bain, C. J. Pulliam, X. Yan, K. F. Moore, T. Müller, R. G. Cooks, “Mass Spectrometry in Organic Synthesis: Claisen–Schmidt Base-Catalyzed Condensation and Hammett Correlation of Substituent Effects”  J. Chem. Educ., 2014, 91,1985–1989. DOI:10.1021/ed500288m
  • K. S. Kerian,A. K. Jarmusch,V. Pirro,M. O. Koch,T. A. Masterson,L. Cheng, R. G. Cooks, “Differentiation of prostate cancer from normal tissue in radical prostatectomy specimens by desorption electrospray ionization and touch spray ionization mass spectrometry”  Analyst, 2015, online. DOI:10.1039/C4AN02039A
  • Z. Baird, P. Wei, R. G. Cooks, “Ion creation, ion focusing, ion/molecule reactions, ion separation, and ion detection in the open air in a small plastic device”  Analyst , 2015, online. DOI: 10.1039/C4AN01929F
  • A. Li, Z. Baird, S. Bag, D. Sarkar, A. Prabhath, T. Pradeep, R. G. Cooks, “Using Ambient Ion Beams to Write Nanostructured Patterns for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy”  Angewandte Chemie , 2014, online. DOI: 10.1002/ange.201406660
  • R. M. Bain, C. J. Pulliam, R. G. Cooks, “Accelerated Hantzsch electrospray synthesis with temporal control of reaction intermediates”  Chemical Science , 2015, 6,397-401. DOI: 10.1039/C4SC02436B
  • Jarmusch AK, Pirro V, Kerian KS, Cooks RG, “Detection of strep throat causing bacterium directly from medical swabs by touch spray-mass spectrometry”  Analyst , 2014, 139,4785-9. DOI: 10.1039/c4an00959b
  • Figueroa M, Jarmusch AK, Raja HA, El-Elimat T, Kavanaugh JS, Horswill AR, Cooks RG, Cech NB and Oberlies NH, “Polyhydroxyanthraquinones as Quorum Sensing Inhibitors from the Guttates of Penicillium restrictum and Their Analysis by Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry”  J Nat Prod. , 2014, 77,1351-8. DOI: 10.1021/np5000704
  • Ryan D. Espy, Sebastiaan Frans Teunissen, Nicholas E. Manicke, Yue Ren, Zheng Ouyang, Arian van Asten,and R. Graham Cooks, “Paper Spray and Extraction Spray Mass Spectrometry for the Direct and Simultaneous Quantification of Eight Drugs of Abuse in Whole Blood”  Anal. Chem. , 2014, on-line. DOI: 10.1021/ac5016408
  • Xin Yan, Ewa Sokol, Xin Li,Guangtao Li, Shiqing Xu and R. Graham Cooks, “On-Line Reaction Monitoring and Mechanistic Studies by Mass Spectrometry: Negishi Cross-Coupling, Hydrogenolysis, and Reductive Amination”  Angewandte Chemie , 2014, 126,6041-6045. DOI: 10.1002/ange.201310493
  • Kevin S. Kerian, Alan K. Jarmusch, R. Graham Cooks“Touch spray mass spectrometry for in situ analysis of complex samples”  Analyst , 2014, 139,2714-2720. DOI: 10.1039/C4AN00548A
  • Ryan D. Espy,Michael Wleklinski,Xin Yan,R. Graham Cooks“Beyond the flask: Reactions on the fly in ambient mass spectrometry”   TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 2014, 57,135–146. DOI:
  • Alan K. Jarmusch, R. Graham Cooks, “Emerging capabilities of mass spectrometry for natural products”   Natural Product Reports, 2014, in press. DOI: 10.1039/C3NP70121B
  • Linfan Li, Tsung-Chi Chen, Yue Ren, Paul I. Hendricks, R. Graham Cooks, and Zheng Ouyang, “Mini 12, Miniature Mass Spectrometer for Clinical and Other Applications—Introduction and Characterization”   Anal. Chem., 2014, 86, 2909–2916. DOI: 10.1021/ac403766c
  • Paul I. Hendricks, Jon K. Dalgleish, Jacob T. Shelley, Matthew A. Kirleis, Matthew T. McNicholas, Linfan Li, Tsung-Chi Chen, Chien-Hsun Chen, Jason S. Duncan, Frank Boudreau, Robert J. Noll, John P. Denton, Timothy A. Roach, Zheng Ouyang, and R. Graham Cooks, “Autonomous in Situ Analysis and Real-Time Chemical Detection Using a Backpack Miniature Mass Spectrometer: Concept, Instrumentation Development, and Performance”   Anal. Chem., 2014, 86, 2900–2908. DOI: 10.1021/ac403765x
  • Anyin Li, Qingjie Luo,So-Jung Park and R. Graham Cooks, “Synthesis and Catalytic Reactions of Nanoparticles formed by Electrospray Ionization of Coinage Metals”   Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, 53, 3147–3150. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201309193
  • Anyin Li, Fred P.M. Jjunju, and R. Graham Cooks, “Nucleophilic Addition of Nitrogen to Aryl Cations: Mimicking Titan Chemistry”   J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom., 2013, 24, 1745-1754. DOI: 10.1007/s13361-013-0710-1
  • Xin Yan, Rodinei Augusti, Xin Li and R. Graham Cooks, “Chemical Reactivity Assessment Using Reactive Paper Spray Ionization Mass Spectrometry: The Katritzky Reaction”   ChemPlusChem, 2013, 78, 1142-1148. DOI: 10.1002/cplu.201300172
  • Anyin Li, Pu Wei, Hsu-Chen Hsu and R. Graham Cooks, “Direct analysis of 4-methylimidazole in foods using paper spray mass spectrometry”   Analyst, 2013, 138, 4624-4630. DOI: 10.1039/C3AN00888F
  • Fred. P. M. Jjunju, Anyin Li, Abraham Badu-Tawiah, Pu Wei, Iman S. Roqan and R. Graham Cooks, “In-situ Analysis of Corrosion Inhibitors using a Portable Mass Spectrometer with Paper Spray Ionization”  Analyst, 2013, 138, 3740-3748. DOI: 0.1039/c3an00249g
  • Livia S. Eberlin, Isaiah Norton, Daniel Orringer, Ian F. Dunn,Xiaohui Liu, Jennifer L. Ide, Alan K. Jarmush, Keith L. Ligon, Ferenc A. Jolesz, Alexandra J. Golby, Sandro Santagata, Nathalie Y. R. Agar and R. Graham Cooks, “Ambient Mass Spectrometry for the Intraoperative Molecular Diagnosis of Human Brain Tumors”  PNAS, 2013, 110, 1611-1616. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1215687110
  • Brenno A. da Silveira Netto, Eduardo C. Meurer, Renan Galaverna, Benjamin Bythell, Jairton Dupont, R. Graham Cooks and Marcos N. Eberlin;Vapors from Ionic Liquids:  Reconciling Simulations with Mass Spectrometric Data”  J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2012, 3, 3435-3441.DOI: 10.1021/jz301608c
  • Thomas Müller, Abraham Badu-Tawiah and R. Graham Cooks, “Accelerated C-C Bond Forming Reactions in Preparative Electrospray”  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2012, 51, 11832-11835. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201206632
  • Christina R. Ferreira, Valentina Pirro, Livia S. Eberlin, Judy E. Hallett and R. Graham Cooks, “Developmental Phases in Individual Mouse Preimplantation Embryos Characterized by Lipid Signatures in Desorption Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry”  Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2012,404, 2915-2926. DOI: 10.1007/s00216-012-6426-4
  • Jobin Cyriac, T. Pradeep, H. Kang, R. Souda, and R. G. Cooks,“Low-Energy Ionic Collisions at Molecular Solids”  Chemical Reviews, 2012, 112, 5356–5411. DOI: 10.1021/cr200384k

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