Carnegie Mellon University Department of Chemistry
photo of Catalina Achim

Mark Bier

Research Professor

Carnegie Mellon University


Phone: (412) 268-3540

Fax: (412) 268-6897

Office: Mellon Institute 500A

group website

Faculty & Research

Mark Bier

Research Professor

Research Areas

Biophysical chemistry, Environmental chemistry

Macromolecular Mass Spectrometry for Biological Discovery (BioPhysical)

Our research is focused on the development of a heavy ion mass spectrometer and methods to improve the analysis of nanoparticles such as biomacromolecular complexes (viruses, von Willebrand Factor) and nano-sized synthetic particles (Au nanoparticles). Electrospray ionization (ESI) and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) will be used to produce the heavy ions in the gas phase. The new instrument, incorporates a superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) detector that allows us to study the limitations of mass spectrometry at high m/z. This new detector technology has a tremendous advantage over conventional detectors because it is, theoretically, 100% efficient at high mass. This research is expected to impact molecular biology, virology and polymer chemistry. To date, we have recorded the highest molecular weight chains of polystyrene at 2.2 Mega-Da and, remarkably, a virus particle at 13 MegaDa by MALDI TOF MS. In the future, we expect to be able to analyze ribosomal particles, virus particles, DNA/RNA protein complexes and other nano-sized synthetic particles.

Water Analysis (Environmental)

The objective of our environmental work is to monitor low levels of molecules in water or air using electrospray ionization membrane introduction MS (MIMS) probes. Our MIMS probes have shown detection limit in the ppb to ppt range. Investigations into the quality of our ground water due to Marcellus shale drilling is of interest.

Education Area

Virtual Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (VMSL)

We created an internet-based mass spectrometry education tool called the Virtual Mass Spectrometry Laboratory (VMSL). The site is used to educate students, teachers, and researchers about mass spectrometry, using case studies and 'virtual' mass spectrometers to achieve this goal.

Courses Taught

Invited lecturer

Computational Biology at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh
Chemistry 09- ##: Modern Analytical Instrumentation

Education and Appointments
2010–present Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon
2005–2010 Associate Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon
1996–2005 Assistant Research Professor, Carnegie Mellon
1996–present Director, Center for Molecular Analysis
1988–1996 Scientist , ThermoFisher Scientific (Finnigan)
1983–1988 Ph.D., Purdue University
1981–1983 Scientist, AMSCO Inc. (Steris)
1980–1981 Biochemist, VA Medical Center
Awards and Distinctions
1995 Co-inventor of the linear quadrupole ion trap used worldwide
Selected Publications

1. Bier, M.E. "ESI and MALDI Couple to Quadrupole Mass Filter, Linear 2D-Quadrupole Field Ion Trap, 3D-Quadrupole Field Ion Trap and Orbitrap Mass Analyzers", Chapter 9 in Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry: Fundamentals, Instrumentation, and Applications, Cole, R. Ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2nd Edition, 2010, p265-344.

2. Stephens, Catherine H.; Shrestha, Bindesh; Morris, Hannah R.; Bier, Mark E.; Whitmore, Paul M.; Vertes, Akos. Minimally invasive monitoring of cellulose degradation by desorption electrospray ionization and laser ablation electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Analyst (Cambridge, United Kingdom) (2010), 135(9), 2434-2444.

3. Wu, Zhikun; Jiang, De-en; Lanni, Eric; Bier, Mark E.; Jin, Rongchao. Sequential Observation of AgnS4- (1 £ n £ 7) Gas Phase Clusters in MS/MS and Prediction of Their Structures. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (2010), 1(9), 1423-1427.

4. Wu, Zhikun; Lanni, Eric; Chen, Wenqian; Bier, Mark E.; Ly, Danith; Jin, Rongchao. High Yield, Large Scale Synthesis of Thiolate-Protected Ag7 Clusters. Journal of the American Chemical Society (2009), 131(46), 16672-16674.

5. Qian, Huifeng; Zhu, Manzhou; Lanni, Eric; Zhu, Yan; Bier, Mark E.; Jin, Rongchao. Conversion of polydisperse Au nanoparticles into monodisperse Au25 nanorods and nanospheres. Journal of Physical Chemistry C (2009), 113(41), 17599-17603.

6. Zhu, Manzhou; Lanni, Eric; Garg, Niti; Bier, Mark E.; Jin, Rongchao. Kinetically Controlled, High-Yield Synthesis of Au25 Clusters. Journal of the American Chemical Society (2008), 130(4), 1138-1139.

7. Aksenov, Alexander A.; Bier, Mark E.. "The Analysis of Polystyrene and Polystyrene Aggregates into the Mega Dalton Mass Range by Cryodetection MALDI TOF MS." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (2008), 19(2), 219-230.

8. Stephens, Catherine H.; Whitmore, Paul M.; Morris, Hannah R.; Bier, Mark E.. "Hydrolysis of the Amorphous Cellulose in Cotton-Based Paper." Biomacromolecules (2008), 9(4), 1093-1099.

9. VanHassel, Emily; Bier, Mark E. "An Electrospray Membrane Probe for the Analysis of Volatile and Semi-volatile Organic Compounds in Water." Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 2007; 21: 413-420.

10. Bier, M.E.; Syka, J.E.P. Ion trap mass spectrometer system and method U.S. Patent 05420425, 1995.