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Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Jocelyn Bowie
College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Product developed by IU chemistry lab recognized in 'Oscars of Innovation'

June 28, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Technology developed by Indiana University Bloomington chemist Gary Hieftje and collaborators at IU and other institutions has been named a winner in the 49th annual R&D 100 Awards, which salute the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.

The device, Array Detection Technology for Mass Spectrometry (ADT-MS), creates a breakthrough in analytical chemistry by allowing simultaneous detection and measurement of a wide range of chemical substances from a single sample.

Hieftje Lab

Jeremy Felton (left), Steven Ray and Gary Hieftje

Print-Quality Photo

The R&D 100 Awards, widely recognized as the "Oscars of Innovation," identify and celebrate top high technology products. This year's awards went to sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products and consumer items, spanning industry, academia and government-sponsored research.

Hieftje, Distinguished Professor and Robert and Marjorie Mann Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, and his IU Bloomington team shared the award with colleagues at the University of Arizona and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which acted as the lead organization for the competition. Other team members from IU include Associate Scientist Steve Ray, former graduate students James Barnes and Gregory Schilling and current graduate student Jeremy Felton.

The winning technology was made available commercially in March 2010 and is marketed by Spectro, a German division of Ametek, a U.S. firm. The semiconductor chip design for the device was by Imager Labs Inc. of Monrovia, Calif.

"Being part of a team that receives an R&D award is truly an achievement of international significance," said David Zaret, interim dean of the IU College of Arts and Sciences. "I congratulate Gary Hieftje and the rest of the team on this award."

In mass spectrometry or ion mobility spectrometry, a chemical sample is ionized (charged) and separated to identify and quantify its constituents, allowing the sample's components and their concentrations to be characterized. But typical ion detectors, which have changed little since the advent of the modern mass spectrometer, are able to detect only a single mass or a small range of masses at one time. As a result, multiple scans or runs are required to analyze an entire chemical sample.

ADT-MS, by contrast, employs thousands of micro-fabricated detectors, arranged in a dense array and electronically integrated into a chip-based device, to monitor and detect wide mass ranges at once. It is able to analyze the entire composition of a test sample in a single run, which saves time, increases efficiency, improves reliability, raises sensitivity, and simplifies the analysis process. Also, because each detector channel has its own dedicated electronic circuitry as part of the device, signals for the various constituents can be monitored, processed, optimized and communicated independently, providing greater flexibility in the processing of data.

Such simultaneous analysis allows for smaller samples, promoting low-volume, "green" chemistry practices. It improves efficiency, potentially reduces costs, and enables quick, "fingerprint" analysis that lets scientists quickly determine if hazardous or noxious compounds or elements are present.

The device is likely to be useful in such fields as monitoring weapons proliferation, forensics, environmental monitoring, industrial hygiene and the development of associated technologies.

This award is the third of its kind won by Hieftje in his 42 years at IU. The first, in 1983, was for a dual-channel atomic absorption spectrophotometer and the second, in 1988, was for a novel algorithm used in near-infrared spectral analysis.

The R&D 100 Awards, introduced in 1963, have identified many technologies that have become household names, including the flashcube, the automated teller machine, the halogen lamp, the fax machine, the liquid crystal display, the Kodak Photo CD, the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch, Taxol anticancer drug and HDTV. Winners of the awards are selected by an independent judging panel and the editors of R&D Magazine. This year's winners will be recognized at an awards banquet on Oct. 13, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. A list of winning innovations is at

To speak with Hieftje, please contact Steve Hinnefeld at University Communications, 812-856-3488 or; or Jocelyn Bowie at the College of Arts and Sciences, 812-855-5265 or