Alexander Makarov was born in 1966 in the Siberian town of Irkutsk. From his early childhood, Alexander was interested in the development of technology using principles of nature. In his teenage years, he attempted to invent various pieces of technology that invariably appeared to be either unrealistic or already implemented. Nevertheless, this brought Alexander to the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, where he hoped to pursue applied rather than basic science.
As he began his studies, Alexander could not wait to start realizing some of his ideas. Prof. A. Sysoev, leader of the Institute’s Mass Spectrometry Group, noted his interest and, in his second year, encouraged Alexander to design analytical instrumentation, specifically the exotic time-of-flight mass spectrometers (TOFMS). Some concepts in ion optics and instrument models Alexander learned at the Institute were later used in the development of the Orbitrap. During those years, Alexander also got married and started his family.
After defending his PhD thesis in 1992 and joining the General Physics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander went on a trip to visit several UK universities and subsequently became a post-doc in Warwick University where he got involved in tandem mass spectrometry.
In 1996, Alexander joined a small high-tech company that was formed by Steve Davis and Andy Hofmann called HD Technologies, located in Manchester, UK. Even though the company specialized in contract development of TOFMS systems, this is where Alexander started to deviate from this technology and made his first steps towards the concept of the Orbitrap mass analyzer.
Alexander’s proof-of-principle results were presented at the ASMS Conference and the term “Orbitrap analyzer” was used for the first time in 1999.
Following the acquisition of HD Technologies by Thermo Corporation in 2000, Alexander concentrated his research on interfacing the analyzer to continuous rather than pulsed ion sources with the practical goal of incorporating an electrospray ion source.
Progress in this direction was accelerated by the expansion of the research team as well as transfer of the project to Thermo Scientific’s Bremen factory in Germany. This resulted in the commercial release of a new LTQ Orbitrap tandem mass spectrometer in 2005 to the enthusiastic acceptance of the mass spectrometry community, especially by proteomics and metabolomics researchers.
Alexander continued to provide scientific guidance on the LTQ Orbitrap, along with additional product line extensions that include a single-stage mass spectrometer called the Exactive, released in 2008, and a tandem mass spectrometer called the Q Exactive along with the top-of-the-line Orbitrap Elite with the new compact high-field Orbitrap mass analyzer, both released in 2011.
Pursuing the strategic goal of bringing Orbitrap technology into new analytical applications previously inaccessible to mass spectrometry, Alexander continues to drive improvements of the technology. This is illustrated by the introduction of a new generation of Orbitrap analyzers and enhanced Fourier transform algorithms in 2011.
For his role in the development of Orbitrap technology, Alexander received the Heinrich-Emmanuel Merck Award (2007), Award for Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry of American Society for Mass Spectrometry (2008), Gold Award of the Russian Society for Mass Spectrometry (2007), Curt Brunnee Research Award (2009), Science and Technology Award of the Human Proteome Organization (2011) and others.
Throughout the years, Alexander has authored more than 40 papers and he holds more than 50 patents and patent applications.
Since 2006, Alexander has been living in Bremen with his family and he currently holds a position of Director of Research in Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry for Thermo Scientific.