Chemistry and Biochemistry

Daniel E. Austin

Daniel Austin

Office: C310 BNSN
Office Phone: 801-422-1551
Lab Room: C249 BNSN
Lab Phone: 801-422-5933
Office Hours


BS, Brigham Young University, summa cum laude and University Honors (1998)

PhD, Physical Chemistry, California Institute of Technology (2003)

Senior Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories (2002-2005)

Curriculum Vitae


Austin Lab Group

My group explores novel instrumentation and applications based on mass spectrometry.

There is significant drive to make mass spectrometers sufficiently small and portable that they can be carried to the sample, rather than bringing samples into the lab for analysis. We have pioneered the approach of making mass analyzers using lithographically patterned plates. We have made miniaturized radiofrequency quadrupole, toroidal, and linear ion traps using this approach, as well as an electrostatic ion beam trap. We are also developing charge detector arrays for mass analysis using patterned plates. The use of patterned plates rather than machined electrodes reduces cost while improving the precision and alignment of the electric field.

We also study electrospray charging of micron-scale particles. Using mobility experiments we have demonstrated that bacterial spores can survive electrospray charging and desolvation. These spores can subsequently survive impacts against a dense surface at surprisingly high impact speeds. We have also demonstrated that electrospray can be used to electrically charge a variety of mineral types, including quartz, olivine, and chondrite. Electrically charging mineral grains may enable accelerating these particles to high velocities for laboratory simulations of cosmic dust impacts.

My research team recently published an article on crash testing bacteria at 670 mph in the lab to see if spores could survive space travel. See the video below.  


Recent Publications

Barney, B.; Pratt, S.N.; Austin, D.E. Survivability of bare, individual Bacillus subtilis spores to high-velocity surface impact: implications for microbial transfer through space, Planetary and Space Science, in press.


Austin, D.E. and Lammert, S.A. “Mass Analyzer Miniaturization” in the Encyclopedia of Mass Spectrometry, vol 7. Elsevier, in press.


Chadderdon, S.; Shumway, L.; Powell, A.; Li, A.; Austin, D.E.; Hawkins, A.R.; Selfridge, R.H.; Schultz, S.M. “Ion trap electric field measurements using slab coupled optical fiber sensors” Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 2014, 25 (9), 1622-1627.


Higgs, J.M.; Austin, D.E. “Ion Motion in Toroidal Radiofrequency Ion Traps,” International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 2014, 363, 40-51.


Tian, Y.; Li, A.; Higgs, J.M.; Barney, B.L.; Austin, D.E. “How Far Can Ion Trap Miniaturization Go?  Parameter Scaling, Space Charge Limits, and Future Prospects” Journal of Mass Spectrometry (cover article), 2014, 49 (3), 233-240.


Li, A.; Hansen, B.J.; Powell, A.; Hawkins, A.R.; Austin, D.E. “Miniaturization of a Planar-Electrode Linear Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer,” Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 2014, 28 (12), 1338-1344.


Pratt, S.; Austin, D.E. “Bacterial spores survive electrospray charging and desolvation,” Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 2014, 25 (5), 712-721.


Barney, B.; Daly, R.T.; Austin, D.E. “A Multi-stage Image Charge Detector Made from Printed Circuit Boards,” Review of Scientific Instruments, 2013, 84, 114101; doi: 10/1063/1.4828668.


Hansen, B.J.; Niemi, R.J.; Hawkins, A.R.; Lammert, S.A.; Austin, D.E. “A Lithographically Patterned Discrete Planar Electrode Linear Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer,” Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems (JMEMS), 2013, 22 (4), 876-883.


Daly, R.T.; Kerby, J.; Austin, D.E. “Electrospray Charging of Minerals and Ices for Hypervelocity Impact Research”, Planetary and Space Science, 2013, 75, 182-187.


Kerby, J.; Daly, R.T.; Austin, D.E. “Electrical Charging of Chondritic Meteorite Particles, Other Minerals, and Ices for Hypervelocity Impact Research,” Earth, Planets, Space (EPS), 2013, 65, 157-165.


Taylor, N.; Austin, D.E. “A Simplified Toroidal Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer,” International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 2012, 321-322, 25-32.


Austin, D.E.; Shen, A.H.T.; Beauchamp, J.L.; Ahrens, T.J. “Time-of-flight mass spectrometry of mineral volatilization: toward composition analysis of shocked mineral vapor”, Review of Scientific Instruments, 2012, 83 (4) 044502, 1-6.


Selck, D.A.; Woodfield, B.F.; Boerio-Goates J.; Austin, D.E. “Simple, Low-Cost Mass Spectrometric Analyzer for Thermogravimetry”, Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 2012, 26, 78-82.

Complete list of publications