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College of Science News

Dionex establishes $1 million endowed chemistry chair

Dionex Corp., a California-based company focused on the science of chromatography, has established a $1 million endowment at The University of Texas at Arlington to create the Hamish Small Chair of Ion Analysis in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Small invented suppressed ion chromatography, the technique by which most ions are analyzed today. The endowed chair is funded through a $500,000 Dionex gift, which is being matched with UT Arlington natural gas royalties through the Maverick Match program.

"Hamish Small is one of the giants of modern analytical chemistry," said Christopher Pohl, senior vice president of research and development and Dionex senior science officer. "We at Dionex wanted to honor his many contributions to analytical chemistry by permanently endowing a chair named in his honor and feel that The University of Texas at Arlington is a perfect setting for such an honor."

UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo called the Dionex endowment "a testimonial to the excellent research being conducted in the College of Science."

"Gifts like this one help pave the way to UT Arlington becoming a nationally recognized research institution," Spaniolo said.

Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science, noted that the Dionex gift is the company's first such endowment and particularly noteworthy because of the company's multinational presence and work with many academic organizations.

"UT Arlington has the leading ion chromatography research group in the world, so the endowment is a natural fit," Jansma said.

Hamish Small never worked for Dionex, but his efforts to develop novel ion exchange columns and an ion suppressor enabled direct detection of charged species with a conductivity detector and eventually led to the establishment of Dionex, the market leader in ion chromatography instrumentation.

Ion exchange had been used as a purification technique beginning late in the 19th century. But before Small's groundbreaking work, the use of ion exchange as an analytical technique for inorganic chemicals was limited by the difficulty of detecting ions in a highly conductive background.

Ion chromatography, or ion exchange chromatography, is a process that allows the separation of ions based on their charge. It is widely used in diverse industries, from power generation to water analysis, from pharmaceuticals and healthcare to semiconductor fabrication.

UT Arlington researchers have conducted basic studies on eluent generation and suppression, carbon dioxide removal, on-line concentration, charge detection and capillary scale ionic separation and detection techniques.

The Hamish Small Chair, when filled, will be the second endowed chair in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Professor Daniel Armstrong holds the other chair, the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry.