Bonner Denton

Professor, Galileo Circle Fellow

Degrees and Appointments

  • B.S. 1967, Lamar State College of Technology
  • B.A. 1967, Lamar State College of Technology
  • Ph.D. 1972, University of Illinois

Fields of Study: Analytical Chemistry

Research Specialties: Instrument Development, Spectroscopy/Molecular Structure

Awards and Honors

  • Analytical Division of the American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Analytical Chemistry, 2016
  • Notable People in Mass Spectrometry. In: Michael L. Gross and Richard M. Caprioli, editors-in-chief, Keith A. Nier, Alfred L. Yergey, and P. Jane Gale, volume editors. The Encyclopedia of Mass Spectrometry, vol. 9B, pp. 55-56. San Diego: Elsevier., 2015
  • Honorary Membership in the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, 2014
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Scientific Detectors in Astronomy Conference, 2013
  • Fellow, American Chemical Society, 2011
  • R&D 100 Award, 2011
  • EAS Award for Outstanding Achievements in the Fields of Analytical Chemistry, 2009
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006
  • Fellow, Society for Applied Spectroscopy, 2006


The latest technological advances in electronics, physics, optics, acoustics, mechanical engineering and computer science are being utilized to develop new and improved analytical spectrochemical techniques. A multifaceted but strongly interlocking program designed to elucidate fundamental phenomena occurring in systems employed for spectrochemical analysis is currently underway. Fundamental theoretical knowledge obtained in these studies is being applied toward the development of more accurate and sensitive analytical techniques.

Over the past twenty years, focal plane array detectors have brought an amazing revolution to analytical spectroscopy, providing increased sensitivity, dynamic range, and improved background correction. New generations of these detectors are being developed and applied to a variety of spectroscopic techniques, including fluorescence, phosphorescence, Raman, and atomic emission analysis. Raman spectroscopy utilizing advanced instrumental concepts, including far-UV laser excitation, is being investigated. Applications including pharmaceutical analysis, gem and mineral identification, and advanced techniques for process control are under study. Emphasis is currently being placed on approaches for rapid, sensitive simultaneous analysis of multiple trace level species.

A variety of projects are under way in the area of mass spectrometry, including the development of improved ion sources and sample introduction techniques. Advanced vacuum ultraviolet lasers are being utilized to provide selective photoionization of specified molecules and applied to chemotherapy research.

A program to develop new array detector technologies for mass spectrometry and ion mobility spectrometry is rapidly advancing. Current results promise to revolutionize detection schemes for both techniques.

Over the years Denton and his group have developed methodologies that are today widely used in the field of forensic science. He pioneered the development of high resolution array detector technology for both ultra-sensitive spectroscopic analysis and microscopic imaging. The high performance achievable in modern Raman, Fluorescence and Atomic Emission Spectroscopies, is directly traceable to contributions made by Denton and his research group. Currently Denton is applying new advanced detector innovations leading to the development of ultra-trace level explosives detection instrumentation capable of detecting small quantities of explosives at over forty-meters standoff distances.

In addition to developing analytical methodologies, the Denton Group is also active in applying modern analytical technologies to forensic science and ensuring that forensic scientists properly utilize analytical methodology.

Suzanne Bell, Sunita Sah, Thomas D. Albright, S. James Gates, M. Bonner Denton, and Arturo Casadevall, “A Call for More Science in Forensic Science,” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, published online: 12 April 2018.

Jason J. Amsden, Philip J. Herr, David M. W. Landry, William Kim, Raul Vyas, Charles B. Parker, Matthew P. Kirley, Adam D. Keil, Kristin H. Gilchrist, Erich J. Radauscher, Stephen D. Hall, James B. Carlson, Nicholas Baldasaro, David Stokes, Shane T. Di Dona, Zachary E. Russell, Sonia Grego, Steven J. Edwards, Roger P. Sperline, M. Bonner Denton, Brian R. Stoner, Michael E. Gehm, and Jeffrey T. Glass, “Proof of Concept Coded Aperture Miniature Mass Spectrometer Using a Cycloidal Sector Mass Analyzer, a Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Field Emission Electron Ionization Source, and an Array Detector,” Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry, published online: 19 October 2017.

Sunita Sah, Arturo Casadevall, Suzanne Bell, S. James Gates Jr., Thomas D. Albright, and M. Bonner Denton, “Forensic Science Must Be Scientific,” Scientific American, 317 (4), 12, October 2017.

Jason J.Amsden, James B. Carlson, M. Bonner Denton, Shane Di Dona, Steven J. Edwards, Kristin H. Gilchrist, Jeffrey T. Glass, Sonia Grego, Stephen D. Hall,  Charles B. Parker, Erich J. Radauscher, Zachary E. Russell, Roger P. Sperline, and Brian R. Stoner, “A miniature electron ionization source fabricated using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) with integrated carbon nanotube (CNT) field emission cathodes and low-temperature co-fired ceramics (LTCC),” International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 422, 162-169, doi:10.1016/j.ijms.2016.10.021, November 2017.

People v. Genrich, No. 2016 CA 651 (Colo. App. Feb. 9, 2017).

Michael J. Saka, Thomas Albright, Thomas L. Bohan, Barbara E. Bierer, C. Michael Bowers, Mary A. Bush, Peter J. Bush, Arturo Casadevall, Simon A. Cole, M. Bonner Denton, et al., “Forensic bitemark identification: weak foundations, exaggerated claims”, J. Law Biosci, doi: 10.1093/jlb/lsw045, November 26, 2016

Brief for Petitioner, Richards v. Fox, 371 P.3d 195 (Cal. 4th 2016), 2015 WL 5779458.

M. Bonner Denton, "The Impact of Focal Plane Arrays on Chemical Analysis: Today and Tomorrow", Proceedings, Scientific Detectors in Astronomy Workshop, Florence, Italy, October 4-11, 2012.

Jan Lorincik, M. Bonner Denton, Roger P. Sperline, Erick T. Young, Peter Williams "Testing of a Micro Faraday Cup Array for Ion Detection in SIMS", Analytical Letters, 44: 6, 1050-1057, (2011).

Jeremy A. Felton, Gregory D. Schilling, Steven J. Ray, Roger P. Sperline, M. Bonner Denton, Charles J. Barinaga, David W. Koppenaal, and Gary M. Hieftje, "Evaluation of a fourth-generation focal plane camera for use in plasma-source mass spectrometry," Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 26(2) 300-304 (2011).

Arnon A. Rubinshtein, Gregory D. Schilling, Steven J. Ray, Roger P. Sperline, M. Bonner Denton, Charles J. Barinaga, David W. Koppenaal, and Gary M. Hieftje, "Characterization of a third-generation Faraday-strip array detector coupled to a Mattauch-Herzog geometry mass spectrograph with a dc-glow discharge ionization source," Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 25(5), 735-738 (2010).

Noeth, Louise Anne, "CES: Engineering Landspeed Vehicles", Cutting Edge Science, Lincoln Interactive, The National Network of Digital Schools, published online: Summer, 2010.

Gregory D. Schilling, Steven J. Ray, Arnon A. Rubinshtein, Jeremy A. Felton, Roger P. Sperline, M. Bonner Denton, Charles J. Barinaga, David W. Koppenaal, and Gary M. Hieftje, "Evaluation of a 512-Channel Faraday-Strip Array Detector Coupled to an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mattauch-Herzog Mass Spectrograph," Analytical Chemistry, 81 (13), 5467-5473 (2009).

J. S. Babis, R. P. Sperline, A. K. Knight, D. A. Jones, C. A. Gresham and M. B. Denton, "Performance evaluation of a miniature ion mobility spectrometer drift cell for application in hand-held explosives detection ion mobility spectrometers," Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 395, No. 2, 411-419 (2009).

H. T. Edwards, C. Gatsonis, M. A. Berger, J. S. Cecil, M. B. Denton, M. Fierro, K. Kafadar, P. M. Marone, G. S. Mearns, R. S. Murch, C. Robertson, M. Schechter, R. Shaler, J. A. Siegel, S. N. Srihari, S. M. Wiederhorn, and R. Zumwalt "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," Report of the National Research Council of the National Academies, Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. (2009).

Gregory D. Schilling, Jacob T. Shelley, Jose A.C. Broekaert, Roger P. Sperline, M. Bonner Denton, Charles J. Barinaga, David W. Koppenaal and Gary M. Hieftje, "Use of an ambient ionization flowing atmospheric-pressure afterglow source for elemental analysis through hydride generation," Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 24(1), 34-40 (2009).

C.J.S. Pommier, G.J. Redhammer, M.B. Denton, R.T. Downs, "Raman Spectroscopic and Visible Absorption Investigation of LiCrSi2O6 Pyroxene Under Pressure," Applied Spectroscopy, 62-7, 766-772 (2008).

Gregory D. Schilling, Francisco J. Andrade, James H. Barnes IV, Roger P. Sperline, M. Bonner Denton, Charles J. Barinaga, David W. Koppenaal, and Gary M. Hieftje, "Continuous Simultaneous Detection in Mass Spectrometry," Analytical Chemistry, 79 (20), 7662-7668 (2007).