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 Research Group, April 6, 2018

Vertes Group

Latest articles

  • 166/ Sylwia A. Stopka, Rikkita Khattar, Beverly J. Agtuca, Christopher R. Anderton, Ljiljana Paša-Tolić, Gary Stacey, and Akos Vertes, “Metabolic Noise and Distinct Subpopulations Observed by Single Cell LAESI Mass Spectrometry of Tissue-Embedded Plant Cells,” Front. Plant Sci., 2018, 9, 1646.

  • 165/ Jarod A. Fincher, Jacqueline E. Dyer, Andrew R. Korte, Sridevi Yadavilli, Nicholas J. Morris, and Akos Vertes, “Matrix-free Mass Spectrometry Imaging of Mouse Brain Tissue Sections on Silicon Nanopost Arrays,” J. Comp. Neurol., 2018, 1-21.

  • 164/ Linwen Zhang, Nikkita Khattar, Ildiko Kemenes, Gyorgy Kemenes, Zita Zrinyi, Zsolt Pirger, and Akos Vertes, “Subcellular Peptide Localization in Single Identified Neurons by Mass Spectrometry,” Sci. Rep., 2018, 8, 12227.

  • 163/ Sylwia A. Stopka, Xavier A. Holmes, Andrew R. Korte, Laine R. Compton, Scott T. Retterer, and Akos Vertes, “Trace Analysis and Reaction Monitoring by Nanophotonic Ionization Mass Spectrometry from Elevated Bowtie and Silicon Nanopost Arrays,” Adv. Funct. Mater., 2018, 28, 1801730.

  • 162/ Linwen Zhang, Christopher J. Sevinsky, Brian M. Davis, and Akos Vertes, “Single-Cell Mass Spectrometry of Subpopulations Selected by Fluorescence Microscopy,” Anal. Chem., 2018, 90, 4626-4634.

  • 161/ Dusan Velickovic, Beverly J. Agtuca, Sylwia A. Stopka, Akos Vertes, David W. Koppenaal, Ljiljana Pasa-Tolic, Gary Stacey, Christopher R. Anderton, “Observed metabolic asymmetry within soybean root nodules reflects unexpected complexity in rhizobacteria-legume metabolite exchange,” ISME J., 2018, 12, 2335-2338.

  • 160/ Linwen Zhang, and Akos Vertes, “Single‐Cell Mass Spectrometry Approaches to Explore Cellular Heterogeneity,” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2018, 57, 4466-4477.

  • 159/ Hang Li, and Akos Vertes, “Solvent Gradient Electrospray for Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry,” Analyst, 2017, 142, 2921-2927.

  • 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, 142, 3157-3164.

  • 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.

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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