Research areas.

Clinical analysis

The establishment of the Medical Faculty at the JKU also led to increased interest in clinically relevant topics at the Institute for Analytical Chemistry. The main goals of current and future cooperations with the facilities of the "Kepler University Hospital" are the joint development of analytical techniques for use in medical research and clinical diagnostics.

Analytical methods for clinically relevant questions that were developed at the Institute for Analytical Chemistry include:

  • HPLC-MS and HPLC-MS2 methods for the analysis of active agents in body fluids
  • GC-MS methods with sophisticated sample pretreatment procedures for clinical analysis
  • Use of capillary zone electrophoresis coupled with high resolution MS for use in clinical research

Environmental analysis

The use of drugs in human and veterinary medicine has increased continuously over the past few decades. A negative side effect of this development is the fact that pharmaceutically active ingredients (AI) have entered the aquatic system. Frequent sources of AI water pollution are incomplete absorption by the human body (this is how non-metabolized active ingredients are excreted), gels and lotions containing active ingredients (which are applied externally and washed off during personal hygiene) and, unfortunately, the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals. Although contaminated municipal wastewater is treated in sewage treatment plants, most of these substances cannot be completely removed by these plants. When contaminated water is used for irrigation in agriculture, plants come into direct contact with these AI. Plants can ingest and metabolize these substances, which can pose a potential consumer risk if edible plants are affected.

 In this area, the focus of our research is on:

  • Development of analytical methods for the determination of drugs and drug-related products in plants
  • Investigations into the metabolism of medicinal products in plants and the detection of metabolites at trace levels.
  • Revealing of the corresponding metabolic processes and establishment of a scheme for the metabolism of active substances in plants

Polymer analysis

Plastic products are part of our daily life. To improve the quality of such products, the base polymers (polypropylene, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, polystyrene, ...) must be supplemented with additives. An important subgroup of these additives are stabilizers, which are used to achieve sufficient resistance of the polymer to environmental influences such as UV radiation, heat or oxidative atmosphere.

We develop analytical methods to characterize and determine these stabilizers for:

  • Quality control of polymer materials and recycled products
  • Aging studies on polymer products
  • Product failure studies
  • Development of new, more effective additives
  • Optimization of coatings

Analysis of natural substances

Extracts from natural substances can be very complex mixtures whereby with different compounds are found in the various parts of a plant (leaves, seeds, fruits, bark) at different concentration levels. In order to separate and detect these plant components, high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in combination with high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) is required. The analytical methods for extraction, separation and HRMS detection of different plants have to be optimized depending on the polarity of the compounds to be examined and the complexity of the extracts.

These optimized analytical methods are used to:

  • Characterize the ingredients of plants in order to assign their origin and to compare different parts of the plant
  • Detect adulteration and fraud (e.g. for plants used as food)
  • To identify and quantify phytonutrients, with toxic compounds being the main targets.
  • To elucidate mechanisms that allow animals in some cases to feed on poisonous plants and to detoxify ingredients.