Alex Gundlach-Graham

Alexander Gundlach-Graham received his B.A. in chemistry from Earlham College in 2008.  He obtained his Ph.D. in 2013 from Indiana University under the supervision of Prof. Gary Hieftje.  Alex’s Ph.D. research focused on the development of distance-of-flight mass spectrometry.  In 2014, Alex joined the group of Prof. Detlef Günther at ETH Zurich as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Scholar.  At ETH, his research centered on the combination of laser ablation with inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ICP-TOFMS) for high-resolution elemental imaging and on the detection of engineered nanoparticles by single-particle ICP-TOFMS.  Alex joins the faculty of Iowa State as an Assistant Professor in August 2019. 

Research Areas:

Analytical Chemistry, Atomic Mass Spectrometry, Nanomaterial Analysis, Mass Spectrometer Design

Research Interests:

Research in the Gundlach-Graham group focuses on the development and application of atomic mass spectrometry (MS) to address current measurement challenges in environmental and bioanalytical sciences.

We investigate the use of single-particle inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (sp-ICP-TOFMS) for analysis of inorganic nanomaterials in complex matrices such as biological fluids and environmental samples.  We place specific emphasis on the development of novel sample introduction approaches, calibration strategies, and NP classification strategies with sp-ICP-TOFMS.  Accurate quantification of nanoparticles in terms of composition and particle-number concentration is critical for assessing routes of nanomaterial exposure and supporting nanotoxicological studies. 

In a second research project, we investigate a new high-power nitrogen-sustained microwave inductively coupled atmospheric-pressure plasma (MICAP) source for atomic mass spectrometry.  This research is motivated by persistent limitations of the conventional argon-sustained ICP, such high cost of operation, incompatibility with ambient (air-based) aerosol sample introduction, and argon-based polyatomic interferences that complicate mass-spectral analysis.  Here, we explore the combination of the MICAP source with mass spectrometry to develop a next-generation argon-free ICP-MS.

Selected Publications

Graham, A. W. G.; Ray, S. J.; Enke, C. G.; Barinaga, C. J.; Koppenaal, D. W.; Hieftje, G. M., First Distance-of-Flight Instrument: Opening a New Paradigm in Mass Spectrometry. J. Am. Soc. Mass. Spectrom. 201122 (1), 110-117. (

Gundlach-Graham, A.*; Burger, M.; Wang, H.A.O; Allner, S.; Schwarz, G.; Gyr, L.; Grolimund, D.; Hattendorf, B.; Günther, D.  High-Speed, High-Resolution, Multi-Elemental LA-ICP-TOFMS Imaging: Part I.  Instrumentation and Two-Dimensional Imaging of Geological Samples.  Analytical Chemistry201587 (16), 8250-8267. (

Praetorius, A.; Gundlach-Graham, A.; Goldberg, E. S.; Fabienke, W.; Navratilova, J.; Gondikas, A.; Kagi, R.; Gunther, D.; Hofmann, T.; von der Kammer, F., Single-Particle Multi-Element Fingerprinting (SPMEF) Using Inductively Coupled Plasma Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry (ICP-TOFMS) to Identify Engineered Nanoparticles against the Elevated Natural Background in Soils. Environmental Science: Nano.  2017, 4(2), 307-314. (

Schild, M.; Gundlach-Graham, A.; Menon, A.; Jevtic, J.; Pikelja, V.; Tanner, M.; Hattendorf, B.; Günther, D., Replacing the Argon ICP: Nitrogen Microwave Inductively Coupled Atmospheric-Pressure Plasma (MICAP) for Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry. 201890 (22), 13443-13450. (

Hendriks, L.; Ramkorun-Schmidt, B.; Gundlach-Graham,* A.; Koch, J.; Grass, R. N.; Jakubowski, N.; Günther, D., Single-particle ICP-MS with online microdroplet calibration: toward matrix independent nanoparticle sizing. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 2019. (