Andrew M. DavisProfessor and Chair

Research Focus:
Isotope geochemistry, cosmochemistry
(773) 702-8164
Hinds 129

Research Interests

My group uses samples returned to Earth by spacecraft (cometary and interstellar dust; the solar wind) and by nature (meteorites and interplanetary dust particles) to study the earliest history of the solar system as well as the nucleosynthesis of most of the chemical elements in stars. Some twenty-five years ago, a remarkable discovery was made at the University of Chicago: primitive meteorites contain genuine stardust. These tiny (<10 µm in diameter) grains of silicon carbide, graphite and other refractory minerals condensed around dying stars (mostly red giant stars and supernovae), survived potentially destructive processes in the interstellar medium and during solar system formation, and can now be found in meteorites. These grains preserve an isotopic record of the nucleosynthesis in individual stars. We are also interested in chronology and conditions of formation of the first objects to form in our solar system, so-called “CAIs” (Ca-, Al-rich inclusions), 0.001 to 1 cm diameter rocks made of refractory minerals that are found in primitive meteorites. We have recently built a unique new instrument at the University of Chicago, CHILI (CHicago Instrument for Laser Ionization), which will allow isotopic and chemical analysis with much higher sensitivity, lateral resolution, and freedom from isobaric interferences than the previous state-of-the-art. With CHILI, we have begun analyzing stardust and CAIs, and will soon analyze cometary and interstellar dust returned to Earth by the Stardust spacecraft and solar wind sampled by the Genesis spacecraft and returned to Earth by the Genesis spacecraft. We are also interested in broader applications of CHILI in the earth and planetary sciences, where its strengths are in any problem requiring measurement of isotope or element ratios with high sensitivity and fine lateral resolution.

A pair of SiC stardust grains from the Murchison meteorite.

A pair of SiC stardust grains from the Murchison meteorite.

Publications: Books

Publications: Selected refereed publications

  • Kööp, Levke, et al. "New constraints on the relationship between 26 Al and oxygen, calcium, and titanium isotopic variation in the early Solar System from a multielement isotopic study of spinel-hibonite inclusions." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 184 (2016): 151-172.
  • Stephan, Thomas, et al. "CHILI–the Chicago Instrument for Laser Ionization–a new tool for isotope measurements in cosmochemistry." International Journal of Mass Spectrometry (2016).
  • Schwander, D., et al. "Formation of refractory metal nuggets and their link to the history of CAIs." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 168 (2015): 70-87.

Publications: Ghostwritten papers

  • Davis R. Jr. (2003) Raymond Davis, Jr. (autobiography). In Les Prix Nobel 2002, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, pp. 54-58.
  • Davis R. Jr. (2003) A half-century with solar neutrinos (Nobel Lecture). Rev. Modern Phys. 75, 985-994.


  • PHSC 10100 Evolution of the Solar System and the Earth
  • GEOS 30200 The tools of geochemistry and cosmochemistry
  • GEOS 32400 Nucleosynthesis and its record in the solar system and stars