Funding Opportunities

2008 McCoy Award Recipient



Scott A. McLuckey
Professor of Chemistry



Ion/Ion Reactions in the Gas Phase:New Chemistry for Bio-analysis

Scott A. McLuckey earned a PhD degree in chemistry in 1982 from Purdue University. He subsequently spent one year as a visiting scientist at the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam. In late 1983, he joined the Analytical Chemistry Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as a Eugene P. Wigner Fellow. In January, 1990, he was named Head of the Analytical Spectroscopy Section and led the Organic and Biological Mass Spectrometry Group within the section. In January, 2000, McLuckey moved to Purdue as a professor of chemistry.

McLuckey’s research emphases have been placed in the areas of gasphase ion chemistry and instrumentation for organic and biological mass spectrometry. Fundamental aspects of ionization, unimolecular reactions, and bi-molecular reactions have been studied with the goal of improving the capabilities of analytical mass spectrometry. Attention has been focused on ionization by glow discharge, positrons, and electrospray. Ion activation, ion/molecule reactions, and ion/ion reactions have been major focal areas within the context of the mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry experiment. Instrumentation for tandem mass spectrometry has also been highlighted with emphasis on electrodynamic ion traps.

McLuckey was the inaugural winner of the Biemann Medal by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) in 1997. In 1999, he was named ORNL “Scientist of the Year”. In 2000, he won the Curt Brunneé Award from the International Mass Spectrometry Society. In 2007, he was awarded the American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Chemical Instrumentation. In 2008, he was the recipient of the Anachem Award from the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies. He has served as editor of the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry since 1997 and is currently vice president for programs and president-elect of the ASMS.

Abstract of Lecture

The advent of ionization methods that enable the formation of ions derived from large bio-molecules has revolutionized the practice of analytical mass spectrometry, which is making key contributions to modern molecular biology research. Historically, mass spectrometry has relied on gas-phase ion chemistry to provide ion structure information. For this reason, the gas-phase ion chemistry of bio-ions in mass spectrometers has been the subject of widespread investigation. A number of new developments in gas-phase bio-ion chemistry have taken place within the past decade that have played major parts in the rapidly expanding roles of mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry in bio-analysis. This lecture relates these developments with particular emphasis on ion/ion reactions involving multiply charged ions, a class of chemical reactions being pioneered at Purdue.

Research Challenges

Emphasis in our laboratory is placed in the areas of gas-phase ion chemistry and instrumentation for organic and biological mass spectrometry. Fundamental aspects of ionization, unimolecular reactions, and bi-molecular reactions are studied with the goal of improving the capabilities of analytical mass spectrometry. Attention has been focused on ionization by glow discharge, positrons, and electrospray. Ion activation, ion/molecule reactions, and ion/ion reactions have been major focal areas within the context of the mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry experiment. Instrumentation for tandem mass spectrometry has also been highlighted with emphasis on electrodynamic ion traps and hybrid instruments that combine elements of ion trapping with ion transmission in a single experiment. Current research efforts are heavily directed towards relatively large polymeric species including peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides, and synthetic polymers. Fundamental studies are directed at issues regarding the structures and stabilities of gaseous ions formed from relatively large molecules. Information forthcoming from such studies is exploited for analytical chemistry R&D directed towards the analysis of, for example, protein mixtures, mixtures of small nucleic acids (typically RNA and DNA oligomers of less than 200 residues), and commercial polymers. Current projects include, for example, the development of novel methodologies for the identification and characterization of proteins in complex mixtures (i.e., proteomics), the characterization of small nucleic acids, and fundamental aspects of ion/ion reactions that underlie many of the novel methodologies.

The group’s activities can be summarized on the basis of three core emphasis areas. These include fundamental research in ion chemistry, the development of new tools, and applications of our group’s tools and chemical insights to analysis problems. These activities are synergistic. New chemical insights often enable new applications, analytical application problems often give rise to new fundamental ion chemistry questions, new instruments often enable new applications, important applications often drive the development of new instruments, and so on. Many projects often involve all three activities. These activities are inherently prone to serendipity, the process of finding things not sought. While it is difficult to plan discoveries, exploring new reactions with unique tools is a strategy that is amenable to discovery. Hence, the activities emphasized in the group constitute an intentional process to facilitate discovery. Perhaps the most interesting work performed by this group has evolved from unexpected findings. Hence, the group’s work involves both “pull” (i.e., work that is driven by the needs of particular problems) and “push” (i.e., work arising from unexpected findings that lead to unforeseen solutions to measurement problems). Ion/ion reaction research is an example of the latter scenario. The work initially was curiosity driven but evolved into a major part of the application effort of the group. Mass spectrometers designed for ion/ion reactions are now commercially available.