This award is supported by the Major Research Instrumentation and the Chemistry Research Instrumentation programs. Professor Mark Johnson from Yale University and colleagues James Mayer, Scott Miller, Patrick Holland and Nilay Hazari built a new type of mixed mass spectrometer. The spectrometer enables mass-selective isolation of ions for optical spectroscopic characterization after the ions are cooled in a chamber having an inert atmosphere without oxygen or water. The aim of the proposal is to use a hybrid approach in which high resolution mass spectrometry is integrated with optical spectroscopies, such as infrared. The key to this innovation derives from the addition of a cryogenic ion processing stage between the usual ion manipulations (for example, tandem mass spectrometry) and the optical spectrometers that allow the collection of spectra. The instrument includes incorporation of an enclosed, inert environment for ion injection that include sample manipulation in a glovebox and low temperature sample preparation to prolong the ion stability. It is designed as an inert sample orbitrap mass spectrometer with ion spectroscopy (ISOMSIS). In general, mass spectrometry (MS) is one of the key analytical methods used to identify and characterize small quantities of chemical species embedded in complex matrices. In a typical experiment, the components flow into a mass spectrometer where they are ionized into the parent ion and its fragment ions and their masses are measured. This highly sensitive technique allows detection and determination of the structure of molecules in a complex mixture. The addition of a chamber where the ions can be cooled after separation followed by insertion into a spectrometer that measure how light (such as infrared light) interacts with species of interest substantially increases the structural specificity in characterization of unknown compounds and intermediates. The building a new instrumentation is essential to improve economic development and to prepare the new generation of instrumentalists. Students participate and the building process and use the instrument in outreach activities such as that Yale Pathways to Science. The investigators also demonstrate the capabilities afforded by this instrumental platform in activities ranging from outreach to the local community and connections to local chemical industry.

The award to build this mixed mass spectrometer is aimed at enhancing research and education at all levels. It especially impacts studies directed to study research is directed to the enzyme nitrogenase model compounds in processes that incorporate nitrogen in plants. The instrument is also used for investigations of the oxygen reduction reaction. In addition, it aids in the discovery of small peptides that catalyze enantioselective reactions, and in the preparation of catalysts with earth-abundant metals to make more environmentally friendly materials that will improve economic development.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Carlos Murillo
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Yale University
New Haven
United States
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