Chemical Orthogonality in Tandem Differential Mobility Spectrometry at Ambient Pressure


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
College of Arts and Sciences

Chemical Orthogonality in Tandem Differential Mobility Spectrometry at Ambient Pressure

(November 4, 2014)  New Mexico State University’s Gary A. Eiceman has received funding of $399,000 from the National Science Foundation for research to be conducted on “Chemical Orthogonality in Tandem Differential Mobility Spectrometry at Ambient Pressure.”  The project is an extension of research that has spanned more than 33 years at NMSU and has included hundreds of students and contributors from New Mexico and around the world. 

Gary EicemanEiceman, chemistry professor in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, received the grant beginning in August 2013 and will continue to receive funding for the next two years.  Students, faculty and staff gathered Sept. 19 at NMSU to celebrate Eiceman and honor his work during a Scholarly Excellence Rally. 

“Over the next two years, we should see implementation of a next generation of chemical vapor detectors which are fast, small, and highly selectivity as handheld devices that, until now, have only been found in large laboratory instruments, which are expensive and difficult to use,” Eiceman said. 

“Our aim is to bring specificity and a level of confidence in measurements that heretofore have been unavailable. Our goal is to impact technology found today in national security, in air quality monitoring on spacecraft, and in routine clinical or medical care nationwide and perhaps internationally.” 

Ion-mobility spectrometry is an analytical technique used to detect and identify substances based on the speed or mobility of ions, derived from the substances, in the gas phase and in a weak electric field.  Eiceman’s group has been exploring the chemistry of ionization reactions and developing mobility-based instruments for fast measurements of toxic organic compounds in airborne vapors for decades at NMSU. 

IMS has application in military preparedness and commercial aviation security.  The technology allows soldiers to “determine the presence and levels of chemical warfare agents in combat environments, and allows the detection of trace levels of explosives in hand luggage.” 

“The technology is simple, comparatively inexpensive and enormously robust,” Eiceman said.  “It has been unchanged fundamentally during the past 30 years, and we are seeking to bring a new strategy to IMS measurements at a high level of sophistication – at a level that doesn’t exist at this moment.” 

“The dream for many of us is individualized medicine where measurement technology allows metabolic profiling of health and illness of an individual throughout a life, in order that measurements of clinical conditions won’t be referenced against population means but against an individual’s own medical history. This should provide clearer, sharper discovery of early stages of diseases.” 

At the rally, Eiceman credited the numerous collaborators he has worked with over his 34-year career at NMSU, including students ranging from the high school level to postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists representing more than 40 nations. 

“This is not only the work of three decades, it’s also the work of hundreds of people,” Eiceman added. 

The next steps in the project include continued collaboration with Professor Karisa Pierce of Seattle Pacific University and NMSU graduate students Marlen Menlyadiev and Dedeepya Pasupuleti. 

Eiceman is a member of the American Chemical Society, the International Society for Ion Mobility Spectrometry, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and the British Mass Spectrometry Society.  He is the co-inventor on 21 patents, as well as a co-author of more than 200 research journal articles and a third edition of his book “Ion Mobility Spectrometry.”  He also has been appointed Professor of Chemical Instrumentation at Loughborough University in England. 

Last year, Eiceman was recognized by NMSU President Garrey Carruthers for having generated more than $1 million in funding during the fiscal year.  During his years with NMSU he has also mentored 16 Ph.D. students and 20 M.S. students, six graduate students with degrees at universities outside the U.S. and 26 students in interdisciplinary projects.  Seventy-four undergraduate students have worked as researchers in his laboratory. 

NMDOT-Article by Isabel A. Rodriguez, photo by University Communications.  See more at

Program funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and grants from many others. 

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