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Fellows Directory

David Smith

David Smith

Professor David Smith FRS


Elected: 1988


David Smith carried out most successful and comprehensive studies of a variety of gas-phase ionic reaction processes at thermal energies, including ion–molecule interactions, ion–ion and ion–electron recombination and electron attachment. In variety, depth and range of application, this effort probably surpasses any other in the world. To achieve this he conceived, developed and exploited a unique apparatus, the selected-ion flow tube (SIFT).

The SIFT technique has now been adopted by many leading research groups around the world. His work has very wide application as is illustrated by the important contributions which he has made to aeronomy, astrophysics and astrochemistry, laser physics, plasma physics and plasma chemistry, and also to the fundamental understanding of ionic reactions in the gas phase.

A change of research direction resulted in the development of selected-ion flow tube mass spectrometry, SIFT-MS, used for the direct analysis of trace gases in ambient air, exhaled breath and the headspace of biological fluids in the search for volatile biomarkers that can be exploited for non-invasive clinical diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring.

Professor David Smith FRS died on 15 February 2023.

Professional positions

Director, Trans Spectra Limited

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Health and human sciences
    • Medical instrumentation
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, applied


Ion chemistry; gas phase analysis; breath analysis

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