Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Sampling, Ambient Mass Spectrometry, and the Philosophy of Damage in a Museum Setting

Image of speaker, G. Asher Newsome
G. Asher Newsome
Research Physical Scientist
Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
iSTEM Building 2, Room 1218
Analytical Seminar

With some 150 million objects (including living specimens) in its collection that have been selected for conservation and are available for study, the interests of the Smithsonian Institution fill every niche. Though material analysis is needed to support all manner of research, it may be more important to the museum and other interested parties that rare, precious, or culturally sensitive objects remain un-damaged. Mass spectrometry in its various forms presents a powerful tool, but it is inescapably destructive at some level. As the sensitivity of modern instrumentation grows, the sample mass that must be harvested and ionized shrinks, perhaps to the point where it becomes debatable whether the amount removed constitutes “damage”. Ambient mass spectrometry methods offer particular opportunities for sensitive object analysis because they can theoretically be performed without cutting material from a whole or preparing the surface. I will present several recent projects that pertain to different forms of minimally-invasive, ambient sampling from materials such as parchment, wood, textiles, and synthetics, among others. I will also show non-proximate instrumentation methods developed to accommodate intact objects too large to fit immediately adjacent to the mass spectrometer.

Research Areas:

Support Us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.

Got More Questions?

Undergraduate inquiries: 

Registration and credit

AP Credit, Section Changes, Overrides,

Graduate inquiries:

Contact Us!

Assistant to the Department Head: Donna Spotts, 706-542-1919 

Main office phone: 706-542-1919 

Main Email:

Head of Chemistry: Prof. Jason Locklin