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Hilkka Kenttamaa

Hilkka Kenttamaa

We are interested in various aspects of organic and bioorganic mass spectrometry. The focus areas include fundamental understanding of gas-phase ion chemistry, and structural characterization of molecules.

Mass spectrometry provides a powerful tool for the analysis of organic and biomolecules. Chemical ionization methods are developed for (1) distinction of isomeric compounds, including hydrocarbons and amino acids, (2) structural characterization of complex molecules, such as synthetic polymers and peptides, and (3) examination of the composition of complex mixtures, especially base oils. Laser-based methods are developed for evaporation of intact neutral bio- and synthetic polymers into mass spectrometers.

Mass spectrometry allows the direct examination of organic and biological reaction intermediates that are difficult to study by other experimental approaches. The information obtained on the molecules' intrinsic properties provides the basis for understanding of their behavior in solution. This work includes the design of gas-phase synthesis strategies, kinetic and thermochemical studies, and molecular orbital calculations on aromatic radicals and biradicals, nucleobase radical cations and ionized carbenes (see figure on the right). The knowledge obtained in these studies aids the understanding of DNA degradation by antitumor drugs and UV irradiation.


  • B.S., Helsinki University, 1977
  • Ph.D., Helsinki University, 1986
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Purdue University, 1986
  • Assistant Research Scientist, Purdue University, 1989


  • Frank H. Field & Joe L. Franklin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mass Spectrometry, American Chemical Society, 2015
  • Provost's Award for Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor, 2009
  • Member of The Finnish Academy of Science, 2004
  • Faculty Scholar, 2001
  • Career Advancement Award, the National Science Foundation, 1996
  • Young Faculty Award of Eli Lilly and Company, 1992
  • American Society for Mass Spectrometry Award, 1991
  • Assistant Research Scientist, Purdue University, 1987
  • Finnish Chemical Society Gustaf Komppa Award, 1985


List of publications