Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Dr. Joan Esson

First Committee Member

Dr. Carrigan Hayes

Second Committee Member

Dr. Hal Lescinsky


Liquid Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, Extraction, Natural Dye, Indigo

Subject Categories

Analytical Chemistry | Fiber, Textile, and Weaving Arts | Higher Education


Species of indigo-producing plants have been used to color textiles for thousands of years all over the globe. Natural indigo-producing species have historically been harvested in regions of Asia, North Africa, and North and South America. This study is an exploration of methods that can be used to determine the provenance (origin) of the indigo dye in a textile through the extraction and isolation of indigoids, flavonoids, and other compounds from the natural dyestuff. There is no accepted method of extracting flavonoids from indigo-dyed textiles specifically, and there is little investigation of the regionally different species. If a method is found to successfully isolate flavonoids, and that the flavonoids differ with provenance, it can be used to identify the origin of a dyed textile. Information regarding a dyed textile’s provenance can be applied in art conservation and history as a tool for authenticating a piece’s region and date of origin. Extraction and liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry techniques and parameters were optimized to isolate indigoid and flavonoid components. The best extraction method was 3:3:4 methanol: acetone: 4 mM oxalic acid in LC-MS water and an optimized LC-MS method was developed using a 100 mm reverse-phase C18 column with a mobile phase multi-step gradient of ­­­acetonitrile from 5% to 50%, 80% and 100%; and a collision induced energy of 35 eV.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use