Current interests center around three topics; Solid Phase
Microextraction (SPME) techniques, sol-gel sensors and
metabolomics. All three may be classified as “green”
analytical chemistry where the use of problematic solvents is
minimized while maximizing the information obtained.
SPME was developed in 1989 and has revolutionized many areas of
chemical analysis. The concept is to coat a thin fiber with
absorbing materials and mount it inside a syringe assembly.
The fiber can be extended into the headspace or solution of a
sample after the syringe needle penetrates the septum of a sample
vial. Withdrawal of the fiber and then the syringe allows for
the same process rto occur at the injection port of a GC/MS.
The exposed fiber is desorbed and analytes are readily determined
without the use of any solvents. We are interested in
developing new fibers, perhaps with enhanced selectivity. Our
interest also tends towards environmental and consumer analytical
problems. Finally, this technique is simple to learn
and apply. Student initiated projects are accepted.
This project is conducted with major input from Dr. Wang and Dr.
Okafor in this department. Sol-gels are formed as the
hydrolysis products of ethoxy and methoxy silanes. These sol
gels can take a variety of physical forms, the one we are
interested in is similar to common glass, SiO2. Additives can
be added to the sol gel preparations to change the pore size of the
sol gel. We are using the atomic force microscope and other
modern methods to investigate the surface structure of our
products. In addition to pore size additives, other additives
can be incorporated to produce color changes that make the sol-gels
sensors for various analytes. The response, stability and
utility of these sol gel sensors are determined for possible
We have observed the major national project entitled genomics that
was to lead to many medical advances when the genome was completely
sequenced. Proteomics was developed based on the belief that
understanding the proteins and their synthesis would provide the
understanding needed for major medical advances. From these
initial starts, it has become apparent that understanding of the
intricate metabolic pathways and their interactions holds the
promise of providing major medical advantages. Metabolomics
seeks to generate hugh quantities of metqabolic data that can be
used for human welfare. Our project plans to use a test
metabolic system from Prof Raymond Ochs and analytical
instrumentation including GC/MS, LC/MS and SPME to demonstrate how
massive amounts of data can be quickly gathered and analyzed.