Dr. Blades' research interests involve the development, characterization, and application of optical and mass spectroscopic methods for chemical analysis.
Bioanalytical Raman Spectroscopy - A collaboration with Professor Robin Turner
The ability of ultraviolet resonance Raman spectroscopy (UVRRS) to determine structural and environmental information concerning biomolecules at low concentration in aqueous solution make it a very powerful bioanalytical and biophysical technique. Unfortunately, its utility has been limited due to experimental sampling requirements which make in-situ or in-vivo studies difficult. In a collaborative project with Professor Robin Turner (Biotechnology, U.B.C.) the performance of fiber-optic UVRRS probes are being investigated using novel for optimizing light delivery and collection efficiency using solarization resistant UV fibers. UVRRS is being used for the study of the structure and properties of proteins and peptides, DNA, and for the in-vivo detection of small molecule neurotransmitters.
Atmospheric Pressure Photoionization Mass Spectrometry
Our group is studying and developing atmospheric pressure ionization (API) sources for interfacing liquid chromatography (LC) with mass spectrometry (MS). Electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) are the most commonly used API sources for LC-MS, and they are applied for the analysis of molecular species in a wide range of settings, most notably the pharmaceutical industry. There exist, however, important classes of compounds, such as steroids, which are not ionized with adequate efficiency by ESI and APCI. In an effort to expand the range of compounds amenable to LC-MS, as well as to improve the sensitivity of LC-MS methods in general, a new ionization method, atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI), has been recently developed (Robb et al., Anal. Chem. 2000, 72, 3653-3659). APPI has since been commercialized by MDS-SCIEX as the "PhotoSpray" ion source, and it is now utilized in a diverse range of LC- MS applications. One of our ongoing research projects is aimed at elucidating the fundamental mechanisms responsible for the performance of the APPI source. As these mechanisms become better understood, ideas for improvements to the source are born. Future research projects will be undertaken to investigate improvements to the APPI source, as well as to develop additional novel API sources.