Wayne State University

Aim Higher

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Department of Chemistry
Faculty Page
Sarah Trimpin
Title Associate Professor
Division Analytical
Education Diplom Universitšt Konstanz, 1999 (Germany)
Doctor rerum naturalium Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research (degree granting institution: Universitšt Mainz), 2002 (Germany)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Oregon State University/Oregon Health&Science University, 2002-2006
Research Associate, Indiana University, 2007-2008
Office Chem 373
Phone (313) 577-9823
Group http://sarah.trimpin.googlepages.com/publications22

Our research seeks to develop a fundamental understanding of a newly discovered process that brings into question what is currently taught relative to ionization methods in mass spectrometry. This extremely simple ionization method for use in mass spectrometry requiring only exposure of matrix/analyte to vacuum is applicable to high throughput analyses, surface analysis, field portable mass spectrometers, and unskilled operation. The interdisciplinary nature of our group with collaborators from academia and industry and across nations promotes training of scientists in multidisciplinary research at the interface of analytical, biological, and materials sciences. The postdoc and graduate students directly involved gain expertise in fundamental, instrumentation and applications of an unprecedented ionization method for use in MS. It provides both graduate and undergraduate students hands-on experience using cutting-edge research equipment to solve problems and thus develop their own scientific thinking and problems solving skills. We are committed to using the excitement of research discovery to enhance the interests of all students in science and in particular as a role model for women and undergraduates interested in the physical sciences.

The inventors of electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MS shared a portion of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry because of the importance of these ionization methods in advancing science. In spite of the importance, the ionization mechanisms of these methods are not yet fully understood. We have discovered an ionization process that uses a matrix, similar to MALDI, but produces ions having charge states nearly identical to ESI. This novel ionization process is initiated by heat or vacuum, and does not require either voltage or a laser used in ESI and MALDI, respectively. Understanding how ESI-like mass spectra can be obtained from a solid surface in vacuum without laser ablation, or applied heat or voltage, and using a matrix compound that has no acidic hydrogen atoms, is of broad scientific interest and has the potential to unlock the mysteries surrounding ionization processes capable of ionizing nonvolatile compounds.

The theme to our current research is to study fundamentals of a newly discovered method for transferring molecules, regardless of size or volatility, from the solid state in a small molecule matrix to gas-phase ions for analysis by MS. The method only requires exposure of the sample in matrix to the vacuum inherent with all mass spectrometers. The ability to transport molecules at least as large as bovine serum albumin (67 kDa) into the gas phase as highly protonated ions without input of external energy is unprecedented in science, analytically important, and of fundamental interest in understanding ionization processes. Knowledge of the fundamentals of how this process occurs will advance our scientific understanding for all ionization methods whereby nonvolatile molecules are converted from the solid or liquid states to gas-phase ions, and provide guidance on how to increase the efficiency of ionization. Using the same analyte solutions and instrumentation designed for ESI or MALDI MS, under similar conditions, the newest ionization method, termed matrix assisted ionization vacuum, is already at least as sensitive as ESI or intermediate pressure MALDI, and offers the ability to rapidly interrogate specific surface features by simply applying a matrix solution to the surface defect and exposure to the vacuum at the atmospheric pressure inlet of the mass spectrometer. Improved ionization will ultimately minimize the surface area that can be interrogated, possibly reaching single cell analyses in the future. The simplicity of the new ionization method is particularly advantageous, and holds promise for novel applications for which currently trained personnel are needed.


  1. Wang, B., Trimpin, S.* High Throughput Solvent Assisted Ionization Inlet (SAII) for Use in Mass Spectrometry. Anal. Chem., dx.doi.org/10.1021/ac400867b.

  2. Trimpin, S.,* Wang, B., Lietz, C.B., Marshall, D.D., Richards, A.L., Inutan, E.D., New Ionization Processes and Applications for Use in Mass Spectrometry. Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 48(5):409-429, 2013.

  3. Chakrabarty, S., Pagnotti, V.S., Inutan, E.D., Trimpin, S., McEwen, C.N.* Matrix Assisted Atmospheric Probe Method for the Analysis of Volatile and Nonvolatile Compounds by Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 24(7), 1102-1107, 2013.

  4. Inutan, E.D., Wager-Miller, J., Narayan, S.B., Mackie, K., Trimpin, S.* The Potential for Clinical Applications using a New Ionization Method Combined with Ion Mobility Spectrometry-Mass Spectrometry. Int. J. Ion Mobility Spectrom. 16(2): 145-159, 2013.

  5. Trimpin, S.,* Inutan, E.D. New Ionization Method for Rapid Analysis on Atmospheric Pressure Ionization Mass Spectrometers Requiring Only Vacuum and Matrix Assistance. Anal. Chem. 85(4): 2005-2009, 2013.

  6. Trimpin, S.,* Inutan, E.D. Matrix Assisted Ionization in Vacuum, A Sensitive and Widely Applicable Ionization Method for Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 24(5): 722-732, 2013.

  7. Inutan, E.D., Trimpin, S.* Matrix Assisted Ionization Vacuum, a New Ionization Method for Biological Materials Analysis using Mass Spectrometry. Mol. Cell. Proteomics 12(3): 792-796, 2013.

  8. Nyadong, L., Inutan, E.D., Wang, X., Hendrickson, C.L., Trimpin, S., Marshall, A.G.* Laserspray and Matrix Assisted Inlet Ionization Coupled to High-Field Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry for Peptide and Protein Analysis. J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 24(3): 320-328, 2013.

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Phone: (313) 577-7784    Fax: (313) 577-8822

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