Dr Vladimir Palitsin
Academic and research departments
Vladimir joined the Surrey Ion Beam Centre (IBC) as a Research Fellow in March 2006 to work on development of the new nanobeam facilities, the Horizontal Nanobeam and the Vertical Nanobeam.
He holds MSc in Physical Electronics from Tashkent Technical University (1985) and PhD in Physics from the University of Warwick (2006). During PhD work in the group of Professor Mark Dowsett he was engaged in development of MEIS/SIMS for surface and thin film analysis and in the evaluation of the ultra low energy SIMS (uleSIMS) as a mass spectroscopic technique in the applications to archaeometry and cultural heritage.
Before this he worked as a scientific researcher at Arifov Institute of Electronics, Uzbek Academy of Sciences (1985-2000), and as a visiting researcher in the I.U.T. Berlin (1997-2000) and the University of Antwerp (2000-2002).
Some of his earlier projects include development of the Ion Mobility Spectrometers and detectors for forensic and environmental trace analysis, ion sources for mass spectrometry and detectors for the gas chromatography. During that time he has also gained an extensive practical knowledge of SIMS as well as MEIS, SEM and XPS techniques.
The primary objectives of his current research are development of the novel analytical techniques in the IBC. These include the ambient pressure MeV energy mass spectrometry (MeV SIMS) with (sub)-micron resolution, and application of proton (ion) beam writing (PBW) technologies for 3D-micromachining of high aspect ratio microstructures: lab-on-a-chip, neural biosensors, micro-fluidics devices, micro-actuators.
- Development of analytical instrumentation, systems engineering
- Mass spectrometry and imaging mass spectroscopy
- Ion beam applications for material analysis and material modification
- Charged particle optics
- Microfabrication using ion beam technique
- Development of analytical instrumentation, systems engineering
- Mass spectrometry and imaging mass spectroscopy
- Ion beam applications for material analysis and material modification
- Charged particle optics
- Microfabrication using ion beam technique
Elemental and molecular imaging play a crucial role in understanding disease pathogenesis. To accurately correlate elemental and molecular markers, it is desirable to perform sequential elemental and molecular imaging on a single-tissue section. However, very little is known about the impact of performing these measurements in sequence. In this work, we highlight some of the challenges and successes associated with performing elemental mapping in sequence with mass spectrometry imaging. Specifically, the feasibility of molecular mapping using the mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) techniques matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) and desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) in sequence with the elemental mapping technique particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) is explored. Challenges for integration include substrate compatibility, as well as delocalization and spectral changes. We demonstrate that while sequential imaging comes with some compromises, sequential DESI-PIXE imaging is sufficient to correlate sulfur, iron, and lipid markers in a single tissue section at the 50 μm scale.
Paper spray mass spectrometry is a rapid and sensitive tool for explosives detection but has so far only been demonstrated using high resolution mass spectrometry, which bears too high a cost for many practical applications. Here we explore the potential for paper spray to be implemented in field applications with portable mass spectrometry. This involved (a) replacing the paper substrate with a swabbing material (which we call “swab spray”) for compatibility with standard collection materials; (b) collection of explosives from surfaces; (c) an exploration of interferences within a ± 0.5 m/z window; and (d) demonstration of the use of high-field assisted waveform ion mobility spectrometer (FAIMS) for enhanced selectivity. We show that paper and Nomex® are viable collection materials, with Nomex providing cleaner spectra and therefore greater potential for integration with portable mass spectrometers. We show that sensitive detection using swab spray will require a mass spectrometer with a mass resolving power of 4000 or more. We show that by coupling the swab spray ionisation source with FAIMS, it is possible to reduce background interferences, thereby facilitating the use of a low resolving power (e.g. quadrupole) mass spectrometer.
“Total-IBA” implies the synergistic use of multiple IBA techniques. It has been claimed that Total–IBA inherits the accuracy of the most accurate IBA technique used. A specific example is now given of this where (in vacuo) EBS/PIXE of a glass sample uniform in depth is validated against absolutely calibrated EPMA of the same sample. The EPMA results had a mass closure gap of 2.0 ± 0.6 wt%; the full PIXE analysis determined the composition of this missing 2 wt%. The PIXE calibration was against a single certified glass sample, with uncertainties per line ~10%. Benchmarking also demonstrates ~10% underestimation of the Si scattering cross-section at proton energies ~3 MeV. But the Total-IBA determination of the silica content had a low standard uncertainty of about 2%. This is due to the strong constraints of both the chemical prior and also the mass closure properties of the EBS. Irradiation-induced sodium migration in this soda-lime glass is explored.
The proton beam writing (PBW) technique was used to fabricate microfluidic structures in SU-8 resist. A network of the buried channels was fabricated as part of a project to develop functional microfluidic device for neuronal studies and self-powered microfluidics. Protons with energies between 2.5 MeV and 0.75 MeV were used to fabricate the buried channels with a minimum feature size of around 1 μm and depths of 40–55 μm. Roughness of channels sidewalls was around 2.5 nm rms. Exposure regime and examples of functional networks fabricated using PBW are described. COMSOL Multiphysics® software was used to model the flow characteristics of fluid in the SU-8 microchannels structured by PBW. The results obtained using PBW are compared with the structures fabricated by UV-lithography.
Direct analyte probed nanoextraction (DAPNe) is a technique that allows extraction of drug and endogenous compounds from a discrete location on a tissue sample using a nano capillary filled with solvent. Samples can be extracted from a spot diameters as low as 6 µm. Studies previously undertaken by our group have shown that the technique can provide good precision (5%) for analysing drug molecules in 150 µm diameter areas of homogenised tissue, provided an internal standard is sprayed on to the tissue prior to analysis. However, without an isotopically labelled standard, the repeatability is poor, even after normalisation to and the spot area or matrix compounds. By application to tissue homogenates spiked with drug compounds, we can demonstrate that it is possible to significantly improve the repeatability of the technique by incorporating a liquid chromatography separation step. Liquid chromatography is a technique for separating compounds prior to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) which enables separation of isomeric compounds that cannot be discriminated using mass spectrometry alone, as well as reducing matrix interferences. Conventionally, LC-MS is carried out on bulk or homogenised samples, which means analysis is essentially an average of the sample and does not take into account discrete areas. This work opens a new opportunity for spatially resolved liquid chromatography mass spectrometry with precision better than 20%.
The finding that drugs and metabolites can be detected from fingerprints is of potential relevance to forensic science and as well as toxicology and clinical testing. However, discriminating between dermal contact and ingestion of drugs has never been verified experimentally. The inability to interpret the result of finding a drug or metabolite in a fingerprint has prevented widespread adoption of fingerprints in drug testing and limits the probative value of detecting drugs in fingermarks. A commonly held belief is that the detection of metabolites of drugs of abuse in fingerprints can be used to confirm a drug has been ingested. However, we show here that cocaine and its primary metabolite, benzoylecgonine, can be detected in fingerprints of non-drug users after contact with cocaine. Additionally, cocaine was found to persist above environmental levels for up to 48 hours after contact. Therefore the detection of cocaine and benzoylecgonine (BZE) in fingermarks can be forensically significant, but do not demonstrate that a person has ingested the substance. In contrast, the data here shows that a drug test from a fingerprint (where hands can be washed prior to donating a sample) CAN distinguish between contact and ingestion of cocaine. If hands were washed prior to giving a fingerprint, BZE was detected only after the administration of cocaine. Therefore BZE can be used to distinguish cocaine contact from cocaine ingestion, provided donors wash their hands prior to sampling. A test based on the detection of BZE in at least one of two donated fingerprint samples has accuracy 95%, sensitivity 90% and specificity of 100% (n = 86).
The Surrey Ion Beam Centre was awarded the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant for “Promoting Cross Disciplinary Research: Engineering and Physical Sciences and Social Sciences” allowing continued research into the characteristics of desorption of secondary ions by the impact of fast primary ions in the ambient pressure at the sub-micron scale. To carry out this research a new beamline has been constructed consisting of a time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometer combined with the current 2MV Tandem accelerator. This research has already returned many significant results such as the first simultaneous SIMS, PIXE and RBS measurement preformed on an organic sample in vacuum. However, further optimization and validation of the new beamline is still being worked on. This work focuses on the optimization of the end station geometry to allow for high sensitivity ambient pressure measurements. It is concluded that a common geometry can be adopted for a wide variety of smooth samples to ensure optimum sensitivity provided a hard edge of the sample can be found to place the mass spectrometer capillary near.
We demonstrate that the simultaneous combination of ion beam analysis (IBA) and ion beam induced luminescence (IL) can reveal valuable information concerning the performance of strained doped silica fibre thermoluminescence microdosimeters. The micron scale spatial resolution and low detection limits of IBA allow the lateral distribution of dopant elements to be mapped and then correlated with the distribution of prompt radioluminescence. Measurement of the decay of the IL signal with dose provide information concerning the saturation of the subsequent TL signal at high doses. MeV ion beams can deposit relatively high energy in localized, well-quantified small volumes and so this method is valuable for studying high dose effects in TL dosimeters. We describe a simple modification of the target chamber microscope which enables sensitive low background light detection in two wavelength bands and present preliminary results from three types of germanium doped silica fibre dosimeter.
Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) consists of a set of analytical techniques addressing elemental composition of inorganic material normally conducted using ion beams in the MeV kinetic energy range. Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry using MeV ions (MeV SIMS) is the only IBA technique which can provide extensive molecular information about organic materials. MeV ions can be extracted into air hence offering the potential to apply MeV SIMS under atmospheric pressure. At the University of Surrey Ion Beam Centre, a fully ambient MeV SIMS setup has been developed and termed “Ambient Pressure MeV SIMS”. This AP MeV SIMS can be optimized for analysis and imaging of organic molecules. MeV SIMS relies upon electronic sputtering of the target material and this is much more efficient in insulating or organic targets, and less efficient in conducting metallic materials. PIXE, on the other hand, is efficient at providing good signals from elemental metallic systems, but does not readily provide molecular information from organics. The combination of the two techniques – preferably simultaneously with the same beam – provides useful complementary information which can readily be combined. Here we present pioneering preliminary work in simultaneous molecular and elemental imaging of a complex sample comprising of two organic species and two metallic species by combining AP MeV SIMS with Heavy Ion Particle Induced X-ray emission (HIPIXE).
The suite of techniques which are available with the small accelerators used for MeV ion beam analysis (IBA) range from broad beams, microbeams or external beams using the various particle and photon spectrometries (including RBS, EBS, ERD, STIM, PIXE, PIGE, NRA and their variants), to tomography and secondary particle spectrometries like MeV-SIMS. These can potentially yield almost everything there is to know about the 3-D elemental composition of types of samples that have always been hard to analyse, given the sensitivity and the spacial resolution of the techniques used. Molecular and chemical information is available in principle with, respectively, MeV-SIMS and high resolution PIXE. However, these techniques separately give only partial information – the secret of “Total IBA” is to find synergies between techniques used simultaneously which efficiently give extra information. We here review how far “Total IBA” can be considered already a reality, and what further needs to be done to realise its full potential.
BACKGROUND: Paper spray mass spectrometry6 is a technique that has recently emerged and has shown excellent analytical sensitivity to a number of drugs in blood. As an alternative to blood, fingerprints have been shown to provide a noninvasive and traceable sampling matrix. Our goal was to validate the use of fingerprint samples to detect cocaine use. METHODS: Samples were collected on triangular pieces (168 mm2) of washed Whatman Grade I chromatography paper. Following application of internal standard, spray solvent and a voltage were applied to the paper before mass spectrometry detection. A fingerprint visualization step was incorporated into the analysis procedure by addition of silver nitrate solution and exposing the sample to ultraviolet light. RESULTS: Limits of detection for cocaine, benzoylecgonine, and methylecgonine were 1, 2, and 31 ng/mL respectively, with relative standard deviations of less than 33%. No matrix effects were observed. Analysis of 239 fingerprint samples yielded a 99% true-positive rate and a 2.5% false-positive rate, based on the detection of cocaine, benzoylecgonine, or methylecgonine with use of a single fingerprint. CONCLUSIONS: The method offers a qualitative and noninvasive screening test for cocaine use. The analysis method developed is rapid (4 min/sample) and requires no sample preparation.
A "broadbeam" facility is demonstrated for the vertical microbeam at Surrey's Ion Beam Centre, validating the new technique used by Barazzuol et al. (Radiat Res 177:651-662, 2012). Here, droplets with a diameter of about 4 mm of 15,000 mammalian cells in suspension were pipetted onto defined locations on a 42-mm-diameter cell dish with each droplet individually irradiated in "broadbeam" mode with 2 MeV protons and 4 MeV alpha particles and assayed for clonogenicity. This method enables multiple experimental data points to be rapidly collected from the same cell dish. Initially, the Surrey vertical beamline was designed for the targeted irradiation of single cells with single counted ions. Here, the benefits of both targeted single-cell and broadbeam irradiations being available at the same facility are discussed: in particular, high-throughput cell irradiation experiments can be conducted on the same system as time-intensive focused-beam experiments with the added benefits of fluorescent microscopy, cell recognition and time-lapse capabilities. The limitations of the system based on a 2 MV tandem accelerator are also discussed, including the uncertainties associated with particle Poisson counting statistics, spread of linear energy transfer in the nucleus and a timed dose delivery. These uncertainties are calculated with Monte Carlo methods. An analysis of how this uncertainty affects relative biological effect measurements is made and discussed.
The quality of the structures fabricated using proton beam writing (PBW) and other direct-write microfabrication methods is strongly influenced by the path followed by the writing beam during the exposure. In particular, it is necessary to avoid paths in which the beam makes large jumps or changes in direction close to the edges of the structure, and ideally the scan path should follow the outline of the pattern to be exposed (sometimes referred to as turtle scanning). While this is relatively easy to implement when the patterns to be created can be built up from simple geometric shapes (circles, rectangles, etc), it has not been possible to do this in the case of arbitrarily complex images, at least using software available to the PBW community. This paper describes a simple edge-following algorithm (EFA) which uses a method of spiral searching around each pixel to determine a scan path which not only optimizes the conformity of the scan path to the edges of the required pattern, but also minimizes jumps (and hence blanking time) and scan reversals which can cause artefacts due to scanning system transients. The EFA operates on a 1-bit BMP format input image file and has been implemented in the OMDAQ-3 software package (Oxford Microbeams Ltd). The paper is illustrated with examples of complex structures written using the EFA at the University of Surrey Ion Beam Centre which demonstrate enhanced edge smoothness compared with simple blanked raster scanning.
Ambient Pressure MeV SIMS (AP MeV SIMS) is a special application of MeV SIMS technique for molecular detection and imaging under ambient conditions. There are several advantages of using ambient over nonambient techniques such as minimising or completely avoiding sample preparation that can contribute to the reducing of costs and shortening of analysis. Moreover, by performing analysis in ambient conditions negative vacuum influence on samples will be avoided. The emergence of ambient mass spectrometry techniques over the past decade has been enormous with a broad range of applications such as food quality, environmental analysis and life sciences [1,2]. On the other hand, the disadvantage of ambient pressure mass spectrometry techniques is the influence of the ambient background which can suppress the signal from the target. In AP MeV SIMS, molecular species present in ambient surrounding of the sampling site will also be ionised by ion beams hence secondary ions originating from the sample have to be transported in the most efficient manner from the site of interaction of ion beams and target into the mass spectrometer capillary and, finally, into the mass spectrometer . In this work, we present the optimisation of the mass spectrometer capillary temperature, distances of mass spectrometer and sheath gas, in our case helium, with respect to the beam axis and angle of the helium flow capillary with respect to the sample.
RATIONALE: Paper spray offers a rapid screening test without the need for sample preparation. The incomplete extraction of paper spray allows for further testing using more robust, selective and sensitive techniques such as liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Here we develop a two-step process of paper spray followed by LC-MS to (1) rapidly screen a large number of samples and (2) confirm any disputed results. This demonstrates the applicability for testing medication adherence from a fingerprint. METHODS: Following paper spray analysis, drugs of abuse samples were analysed using LC-MS. All analyses were completed using a Q Exactive™ Plus Orbitrap™ mass spectrometer. This two-step procedure was applied to fingerprints collected from patients on a maintained dose of the antipsychotic drug quetiapine. RESULTS: The extraction efficiency of paper spray for two drugs of abuse and metabolites was found to be between 15-35% (analyte dependent). For short acquisition times, the extraction efficiency was found to vary between replicates by less than 30%, enabling subsequent analysis by LC-MS. This two-step process was then applied to fingerprints collected from two patients taking the antipsychotic drug quetiapine, which demonstrates how a negative screening result from paper spray can be resolved using LC-MS. CONCLUSIONS: We have shown for the first time the sequential analysis of the same sample using paper spray and LC-MS, as well as the detection of an antipsychotic drug from a fingerprint. We propose that this workflow may also be applied to any type of sample compatible with paper spray, and will be especially convenient where only one sample is available for analysis.
There are many possible biomedical applications for titania nanoparticles (NPs) doped with rare earth elements (REEs), from dose enhancement and diagnostic imaging in radiotherapy, to biosensing. However, there are concerns that the NPs could disintegrate in the body thus releasing toxic REE ions to undesired locations. As a first step, we investigate how accurately the Ti/REE ratio from the NPs can be measured inside human cells. A quantitative analysis of whole, unsectioned, individual human cells was performed using proton microprobe elemental microscopy. This method is unique in being able to quantitatively analyse all the elements in an unsectioned individual cell with micron resolution, while also scanning large fields of view. We compared the Ti/REE signal inside cells to NPs that were outside the cells, non-specifically absorbed onto the polypropylene substrate. We show that the REE signal in individual cells co-localises with the titanium signal, indicating that the NPs have remained intact. Within the uncertainty of the measurement, there is no difference between the Ti/REE ratio inside and outside the cells. Interestingly, we also show that there is considerable variation in the uptake of the NPs from cell-to-cell, by a factor of more than 10. We conclude that the NPs enter the cells and remain intact. The large heterogeneity in NP concentrations from cell-to-cell should be considered if they are to be used therapeutically.
The self-consistent Ion Beam Analysis (IBA) of cultural heritage samples using the external beam is technically demanding. We report on the calibration of an analysis of glass samples from the Rosslyn Chapel where the interest will ultimately be in the full characterisation of the weathered glass. Such an analysis requires a comprehensive Total-IBA approach using p-PIGE and He-PIXE to obtain ”bulk” and surface Na, with H-PIXE/EBS for multielemental depth profiling to 10 μm and He-PIXE/EBS for higher depth resolution near the surface; also with two PIXE detectors as usual for the high and low energy parts of the spectrum. A revised NDF v.10 code capable of a self-consistent handling of all these signals at state-of-the-art accuracy is described, together with the calibration protocols required for such an analysis. Other capabilities of the NDF code not previously discussed are also reviewed.
Elemental imaging is widely used for imaging cells and tissues but rarely in combination with organic mass spectrometry, which can be used to profile lipids and measure drug concentrations. Here, we demonstrate how elemental imaging and a new method for spatially resolved lipidomics (DAPNe-LC-MS, based on capillary microsampling and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry) can be used in combination to probe the relationship between metals, drugs, and lipids in discrete areas of tissues. This new method for spatial lipidomics, reported here for the first time, has been applied to rabbit lung tissues containing a lesion (caseous granuloma) caused by tuberculosis infection. We demonstrate how elemental imaging with spatially resolved lipidomics can be used to probe the association between ion accumulation and lipid profiles and verify local drug distribution.
The colocation of elemental species with host biomolecules such as lipids and metabolites may shed new light on the dysregulation of metabolic pathways and how these affect disease pathogeneses. Alkali metals have been the subject of extensive research, are implicated in various neurodegenerative and infectious diseases and are known to disrupt lipid metabolism. Desorption electrospray ionisation (DESI) is a widely used approach for molecular imaging, but previous work has shown that DESI delocalises ions such as potassium (K) and chlorine (Cl), precluding the subsequent elemental analysis of the same section of tissue. The solvent typically used for the DESI electrospray is a combination of methanol and water. Here we show that a novel solvent system, (50:50 (%v/v) MeOH:EtOH) does not delocalise elemental species and thus enables elemental mapping to be performed on the same tissue section post-DESI. Benchmarking the MeOH:EtOH electrospray solvent against the widely used MeOH:H2O electrospray solvent revealed that the MeOH:EtOH solvent yielded increased signal-to-noise ratios for selected lipids. The developed multimodal imaging workflow was applied to a lung tissue section containing a tuberculosis granuloma, showcasing its applicability to elementally rich samples displaying defined structural information.
Elemental and molecular imaging play a crucial role in understanding disease pathogenesis. To accurately correlate elemental and molecular markers, it is desirable to perform sequential elemental and molecular imaging on a single tissue section. However, very little is known about the impact of performing these measurements in sequence. In this work, we highlight some of the challenges and successes associated with performing elemental mapping in sequence with mass spectrometry imaging. Specifically, the feasibility of molecular mapping using the mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) techniques matrix assisted laser desorption ionisation (MALDI) and desorption electrospray ionisation (DESI) in sequence with the elemental mapping technique particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE) is explored. Challenges for integration include substrate compatibility, as well as delocalisation and spectral changes. We demonstrate that whilst sequential imaging comes with some compromises, sequential DESI-PIXE imaging is sufficient to correlate sulphur, iron and lipid markers in a single tissue section at the 50-micrometre scale.
Characterizing proton beam damage in biological materials is of interest to enable the integration of proton microprobe elemental mapping techniques with other imaging modalities. It is also of relevance to obtain a deeper understanding of mechanical damage to lipids in tissues during proton beam cancer therapy. We have developed a novel strategy to characterize proton beam damage to lipids in biological tissues based on mass spectrometry imaging. This methodology is applied to characterize changes to lipids in tissues ex vivo, irradiated under different conditions designed to mitigate beam damage. This work shows that performing proton beam irradiation at ambient pressure, as well as including the application of an organic matrix prior to irradiation, can reduce damage to lipids in tissues. We also discovered that, irrespective of proton beam irradiation, placing a sample in a vacuum prior to desorption electrospray ionization imaging can enhance lipid signals, a conclusion that may be of future benefit to the mass spectrometry imaging community.
Return of materials from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during shuttle orbiter service missions has allowed inspection of large numbers of hypervelocity impact features from long exposure at about 615 km altitude in low Earth orbit (LEO) [1,2]. Here we describe the application of advanced X-ray microanalysis techniques on scanning electron microscopes (SEM), microprobes and a 2 MV Tandetron, to nearly 400 impacts on the painted metal surface of the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) radiator shield [3,4]. We identified artificial Orbital Debris (OD) and natural Micrometeoroid (MM) origins for small  and even for larger particles , which usually may leave little or no detectable trace on HST solar arrays, as they penetrate through the full cell thickness [2,7].