SBIR Phase I:Rydberg Fingerprint Spectroscopy for Sensitive Identification of Isomerically-Dependent Environmental Pollutants. Test Case: Dioxins
This SBIR Phase I project will develop a spectroscopic device for detecting and discriminating congeners of isomeric compounds based on their Rydberg spectroscopic "fingerprints." It enables the development of a new analytical tool for the detection of dioxins which are environmental contaminants that arise from combustion of organic materials in the presence of chlorine. Dioxins build up in human tissues, causing long-term health problems including cancer, diabetes, endometriosis and others. The toxicity of many isomers is unknown, as it is difficult to selectively identify many isomeric forms of dioxins. Current analytical methods involve mass spectrometry (MS), or tandem-MS techniques. However, the former cannot identify individual isomers, while the latter lacks sufficient sensitivity to reach low detection limits.
The broader/commercial impact of the project will be to potentially impact the $6 billion worldwide market for mass spectrometers, of which the investigators expect to capture 1 percent, or $60 million. In addition, differentiation of isomeric forms with high sensitivity in a compact form-factor would be a new and welcome capability in multiple scientific fields, including air pollution monitoring, toxicology, and exposure assessment.
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