Eric Bakker - 2001 Young Investigator Award

Eric Bakker, currently at Auburn University, is a native of The Netherlands.  He attended the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, and received his Dipl. Chem. in 1989 and Dr. Sc. Nat. in 1993, working with the late Wilhelm Simon. He then joined the research group of Professor Mark Meyerhoff, as a postdoctoral fellow, at the University of Michigan from 1993 to 1995, where he developed models for anion sensors that have exerted a major influence on current research in this area.He developed a model/mechanism that thoroughly explains the response of certain polymeric membranes to macromolecular polyanionic species.A major contribution was his development of a more practical and self-consistent model for mathematically expressing, the selectivity of ion-selective polymeric membrane electrodes.While at Michigan, he broadened his horizons by working with Professor Raoul Kopleman in ultramicro-optical sensors, and introducing fluorescent bulk optodes.

Bakker joined the faculty at Auburn University as Assistant Professor in 1995 and was promoted after just three years to Associate Professor.He has made numerous seminal contributions to our understanding and development of chemical sensors.One nominator states:“He has single handedly changed the way we think of, design, and use ion-selective electrodes in two important areas:assessment of the true selectivity of an electrode, and the design and measurement technique to lower the limits of detection by orders of magnitude over what was possible before.”He has over fifty publications in the last 6 years. Among more than 20 papers on the theory of ionophore-based ion-selective electrochemical/optical sensors, perhaps his most innovative work relates to the determination of unbiased selectivity coefficients for such devices.Indeed, he has shown the long-used empirical Nicoslky-Eisenman relationship to be incorrect in certain cases and replaced it by an exact equation, and he showed that conventional methods for determining selectivity coefficients are biased by the presence of primary analyte ion within the polymeric membrane phase of the sensor. At the same time, his discovery that primary and counterion diffusion through the membrane from the internal filling solution actually controls the detection limit led to a host of reports, in collaboration with Erno Pretsch and coworkers at ETH-Zurich, for methods to greatly lower the limit of detection for such sensors merely by creating a gradient of primary ion-ionophore complexes through the membrane.This latter work is truly revolutionary.  

His more recent work has included various other important contributions in the field of sensors, such as reversible heparin sensors, improved biocompatibility of ion-selective electrodes, new kinds of reference electrodes, sensor membranes with acid release, and pioneering work in the new field of voltammetric transduction of ion sensing with polymeric membranes.