Developments in ambient ionisation mass spectrometry

This project will develop a toolbox of mass spectrometry techniques to understand which is suitable for application in forensic, clinical and pharmaceutical environments.


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

The University of Surrey

Funding information

The studentship will cover University fees and a student stipend of £15,009 per annum. Funding is provided for the full duration (3 years) of the PhD.


Ambient ionisation mass spectrometry has been used for the last 15 years with new sources, instrumentation and techniques emerging all the time, however the application of these is sporadic and unfocused. This project aims to establish standards for the assessment of different techniques and establish strengths and weaknesses of each to form an analytical toolkit. This may require working in laboratories across the UK to gain experience in how the various techniques work to ensure they are tested using an unbiased approach.

In addition to understanding and characterising existing techniques the potential to combine techniques to generate new or more effective modes of ionisation will be explored.  Understanding how molecules can be mobilised from surfaces and then ionised will enable targeted pairing of techniques to enhance limits of detection, reject background and suppression effects and increase the range of materials which can be analysed in the fields of pharmaceutics, forensics and security, food authenticity and for clinical procedures.

The successful candidate will receive training in a range of techniques applicable to mass spectrometry including the preparation of standards, method development and validation, data analysis and chemometrics, surface analysis and 2D printing. Links to industry in defence, measurement science, and pharmaceuticals will be used to help you to establish your own networks and links. In addition to developing practical skills you will also develop excellent reasoning and presentation skills.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must hold a first class degree or 2:1 in chemistry. 

If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic scire of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.

How to apply

To apply to this studentship, you will first need to apply for our Chemistry PhD. In your application, please mention this studentship to be considered. We ask that you provide two academic references in your application. 

Chemistry PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Patrick Sears
04 AZ 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689580

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