The scientific interests in the Vertes Research Group span from fundamental studies in analytical and physical chemistry to the development of new technologies for biomedical analysis. Recent accomplishments include the discovery of photonic ion sources based on columnar nanostructures, the introduction of a new ambient ion source called laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI), metabolic imaging of biological tissues under native conditions and the in situ mass spectrometric analysis of single cells.

Research highlights

    • 1 - Laser induced silicon microcolumn arrays (LISMA) exhibit nanophotonic properties and unique fragmentation patterns that are adjustable by the laser fluence, and simultaneously produce high and low energy fragments.
    • 2 - Laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI) is a new atmospheric pressure ion source for mass spectrometry. LAESI enables the direct analysis tissues, cells and other water containing samples.
    • 3 - Silicon nanopost arrays (NAPA) can be tailored to exhibit resonant ion production. Ion yields from posts with subwavelength diameter show sharp resonances at high aspect ratios.
    • 4 - Phase Doppler anemometry reveals that droplet size and velocity distributions in electrosprays are strongly dependent on the spraying mode that, in turn, is determined by the liquid flow rate and the spray voltage.
    • 5 - Laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI) mass spectromtry enables the atmospheric pressure molecular imaging of biological tissues. The LAESI image of a rat brain coronal section shows the distribution of specific lipids.
    • 7 - Nanopost array (NAPA) chips with different periodicities on a silicon wafer exhibit unique optical properties. Excited by laser radiation, they behave as nanophotonic ion sources.
    • 8 - Single cell analysis by laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI) mass spectromtry produces rich spectra with over 100 ionic species. Numerous metabolites and lipids can be identified.
    • 9 - Fast photography of electrospray mensci reveals the relationship between spraying modes and ion production in electrospray ionization. Dramatic changes in the droplet size distributions result from the various ejection and breakup mechanisms observed.

Latest News


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    High school student Pranav Balan gave an oral presentation at the 63-rd ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics in St. Louis, MO. Pranav is a student of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA. As a rising senior, he participated in summer internship in the Vertes laboratory. During the fall of 2014, he continued in the mentorship program to fully develop his project. The oral presentation entitled "Molecular Imaging of Antibiotic Inhibition of Bacterial Growth and Metabolism by Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry" on June 2, 2015, was the culmination of his participation.

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    On May 18, 2015, we learned that Linwen Zhang was selected by the Washington-Baltimore Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group to receive a Young Investigator Travel Award to attend the 63-rd annual conference of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry in St. Louis, MO. Linwen's presentation was entitled "Metabolic Analysis of Single Human Cells by Capillary Microsampling Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry and Stable Isotope Labeling."

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    On March 11, 2015, Sylwia Stopka was selected as an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) scholar for 2015-2016 by the Metropolitan Washington Chapter of the ARCS Foundation. This prestigious award supports Sylwia's work to develop new technologies for the rapid analysis of metabolites in microbial cell populations by LAESI mass spectrometry, and the imaging of metabolite and lipid distributions in mammalian tissues by laser desorption ionization from NAPA.
    Update: On June 15, 2015, we learned that Sylwia was selected as the 2015-2016 Danaher Corporation Scholar.

  • 1-30-2015 Congratulations to Amy Li and Sylwia Stopka on receiving MSCAL 2015 US Young Investigator Travel Grants. These grants help them to attend the 2015 Mass Spectrometry: Applications to the Clinical Lab Conference, where Amy's contribution entitled "Three-dimensional Metabolic Imaging of Live Bacterial Colonies by Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry with Ion Mobility Separation" is selected for a podium presentation. Sylwia presents a poster on "High Throughput Pulse-chase Analysis of Metabolite Turnover in Microorganisms Followed by LAESI Mass Spectrometry."

  • Sylwia Stopka receives a 2014 MSDG Young Investigator Travel Award. On 5-19-2014, the Washington-Baltimore Mass Spectrometry Discussion Group selected Sylwia Stopka, a graduate student in the group, for a travel award. The financial component of the award helped her to attend the 62-nd ASMS Conference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics in Baltimore, MD, where she gave an oral presentation entitled "Metabolic Response to Altered Light Conditions in Genetically Modified Chlamydomonas by LAESI Mass Spectrometry with Ion Mobility Separation."

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    First and second prize in Undergraduate Natural Sciences at GW Research Days. On 4-1-2014, undergraduate students Emmeline Ha and Daniel Foreman swept the Undergraduate Natural Sciences: Cellular/Molecular category at the GW Research Days 2014. Emmeline's first place poster was titled "Revealing the binding properties behind copper(II)’s anti-aggregative effect on human amylin," whereas Dan placed second with his poster "Comparative Metabolic Profiling of Single Plant Cells by Capillary Microsampling and Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry."

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    Prof. Vertes elected Fellow of the National Academy Inventors. On 12-11-2013, GW Today reported on Dr. Akos Vertes' election as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. On December 18, 2013, this was followed by a GW press release through Newswise.

Vertes Group

Latest articles

  • 159/ Hang Li, and Akos Vertes, “Solvent Gradient Electrospray for Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry,” Analyst, 2017, E-pub, ahead of print.

  • 158/ Jarod A. Fincher, Andrew R. Korte, Brent Reschke, Nicholas J. Morris, Matthew J. Powell, and Akos Vertes, “Enhanced Sensitivity and Metabolite Coverage with Remote Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry Aided by Coaxial Plume and Gas Dynamics,” Analyst, 2017, E-pub, ahead of print.

  • 157/ Zita Zrinyi, Gabor Maasz, Linwen Zhang, Akos Vertes, Tibor Kiss, Karoly Elekes, and Zsolt Pirger, “Effect of progesterone and its synthetic analogs on reproduction and embryonic development,” Aquatic Toxicology, 2017, 190, 94-103.

  • 156/ Sylwia A. Stopka, Beverly J. Agtuca, David W. Koppenaal, Ljiljana Paša-Tolić, Gary Stacey, Akos Vertes, and Christopher R. Anderton, “Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry with Ion Mobility Separation Reveals Metabolites and Lipids in the Symbiotic Interactions of Soybean Roots and Rhizobia,” The Plant Journal, 2017, 91, 340-354.

  • 155/ Hang Li, Pranav Balan, and Akos Vertes, “Molecular Imaging of Growth, Metabolism, and Antibiotic Inhibition in Bacterial Colonies by Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2016, 55, 15035-15039.

  • 154/ Andrew R. Korte, Sylwia A. Stopka, Nicholas Morris, Trust Razunguzwa, and Akos Vertes, “Large-Scale Metabolite Analysis of Standards and Human Serum by Laser Desorption Ionization Mass Spectrometry from Silicon Nanopost Arrays,” Anal. Chem., 2016, 88, 8989-8996.

  • 153/ Sylwia A. Stopka, Charles Rong, Andrew R. Korte, Sridevi Yadavilli, Javad Nazarian, Trust T. Razunguzwa, Nicholas J. Morris, and Akos Vertes, “Molecular Imaging of Biological Samples on Nanophotonic Laser Desorption Ionization Platforms,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2016, 55, 4482-4486.

  • 152/ Sylwia A. Stopka, Tarek R. Mansour, Bindesh Shrestha, Eric Marechal, Denis Falconet and Akos Vertes, “Turnover Rates in Microorganisms by LAESI Mass Spectrometry and Pulse-chase Analysis,” Anal. Chim. Acta, 2016, 902, 1-7.

  • 151/ Rachelle S. Jacobson, Richard Thurston, Bindesh Shrestha, and Akos Vertes, “In Situ Analysis of Small Populations of Adherent Mammalian Cells Using Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry in Transmission Geometry,” Anal. Chem., 2015, 87, 12130-12136.

  • 150/ Linwen Zhang and Akos Vertes, “Energy Charge, Redox State and Metabolite Turnover in Single Human Hepatocytes Revealed by Capillary Microsampling Mass Spectrometry,” Anal. Chem., 2015, 87, 10397-10405.

  • 149/ Hang Li, Emmeline Ha, Robert P. Donaldson, Aleksandar M. Jeremic and Akos Vertes, “Rapid Assessment of Human Amylin Aggregation and its Inhibition by Copper(II) Ions by Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry with Ion Mobility Separation,” Anal. Chem., 2015, 87, 9829-9837.

  • 148/ Nicholas J. Morris, Heather Anderson, Brian Thibeault, Akos Vertes, Matthew J. Powell and Trust T. Razunguzwa, “Laser desorption ionization (LDI) silicon nanopost array chips fabricated using deep UV projection lithography and deep reactive ion etching,” RSC Advances, 2015, 5, 72051–72057.

  • 147/ Rohit Shroff, Katharina Schramm, Verena Jeschke, Peter Nemes, Akos Vertes, Jonathan Gershenzon and Ales Svatos, “Quantification of plant surface metabolites by MALDI mass spectrometry imaging: glucosinolates on Arabidopsis thaliana leaves,” The Plant Journal, 2015, 81, 961-972.

  • 146/ Laine R. Compton, Brent Reschke, Jordan Friend, Matthew Powell and Akos Vertes, “Remote Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry for Non-proximate Analysis of Biological Tissues,” Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom., 2015, 29, 67-73.

  • 145/ Hang Li, Brian K. Smith, Laszlo Mark, Peter Nemes, Javad Nazarian, and Akos Vertes, “Ambient Molecular Imaging by Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry with Ion Mobility Separation,” Int. J. Mass Spectrom., 2015, 375, 681-689.

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A Conversation with Dean Ben Vinson III - December 9, 2014, ~8 min

TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION AT GW - A Success Story - July 12, 2014, ~4 min

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER - A Story of Success - January 25, 2014, ~3 min