SBIR Phase I: Robust High-Throughput Mass Spectrometry Through Vacuum Matrix Assisted Ionization

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1913787
Agency Tracking Number: 1913787
Amount: $225,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: BT
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-06-30
Small Business Information
28 Tenby Chase Dr, Newark, DE, 19711
DUNS: 079157951
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Charles McEwen
 (215) 596-8552
Business Contact
 Charles McEwen
Phone: (215) 596-8552
Research Institution
The broader impact/commercial potential of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project is the development of a newly discovered spontaneous ionization process for use with mass spectrometry that is combined with a novel sample introduction device. This technology has the potential to drive mass spectrometry into new application areas that are currently underserved by this premier analytical tool. The resulting method is capable of analyzing biological and environmental samples in <3 sec/sample directly from the biological matrix without instrument contamination. The method reduces cost, energy use, and required user expertise, while providing high sensitivity and speed of analysis with unprecedented robustness. These attributes address the need for accurate and timely information in medical diagnostics, biothreat detection, and environmental damage control among others. This has the potential to advance science through improved measurement technology with societal benefits of improved healthcare, environmental remediation, and safety through sensitive, rapid, and reliable detection of drugs to proteins. New instrumentation built around this technology has significant commercial potential because it addresses current shortcomings such as high cost, requirement for operator expertise, lack of robustness to contamination, and need for high-throughput automatable analyses, attributes that currently limit the appeal of mass spectrometry in important applications. This SBIR Phase I project proposes to advance mass spectrometry by implementing novel ionization technology first discovered in 2012 through NSF-funded research. The ionization process of this proposal converts large and small compounds regardless of volatility to gas-phase ions simply by exposure to sub-atmospheric pressure through association of the sample with certain small molecule compounds without the need for a laser, high voltage, or the application of heat. A key feature is rapidly exposing successive samples to vacuum directly from atmospheric pressure providing simplicity of operation, speed of analysis, reduced operating cost, and elimination of risk of contamination. The instrument and associated method are broadly applicable for fast analyses of a wide array of compounds, including drugs and their metabolites, and biological fluids and tissues without the need for purification and without instrument contamination. Additional objectives include designing and building a novel sample introduction method for this new ionization technology and an associated ion transfer lens to fit specific commercial mass spectrometry instruments as well as demonstration of proof-of-concept for important applications such as rapid bacteria identification. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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