Molecular Shape Detection for Chemical Analysis

Period of Performance: 08/07/2007 - 02/03/2008


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Ryon Technologies
3 Davol Square Suite A340
Providence, RI -
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Brown University
Chemistry Department 324 Brook Street
Providence, RI 02912
Institution POC


Mass spectrometry is a technology with wide-ranging applications in defense and homeland security. The technique is widely applicable and exceedingly sensitive, but for many molecules there can be ambiguities regarding the isomeric and conformeric form. As the number of atoms in a molecule increases, the number of stable isomers raises dramatically. Recent research has shown that the binding energies of electrons in molecular Rydberg states are highly sensitive to the molecular shape, giving rise to a method to characterize molecular shapes using Rydberg states. In this project, the aim is to combine this Rydberg fingerprint spectroscopy with mass spectrometry, by measuring the Rydberg fingerprints of molecular ions, such as those in a mass spectrometer, using a newly developed detector. The two-dimensional output, with mass as one coordinate and the Rydberg fingerprint as the other, will find many uses in the identification of chemical and biological agents, explosives, environmental analysis, and industrial chemicals.