SBIR Phase I: Sub-100nm Infrared Spectroscopy based on Atomic Force Microscopy

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0638338
Agency Tracking Number: 0638338
Amount: $99,999.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: MI
Solicitation Number: NSF 06-553
Small Business Information
3944 State Street, Suite 345, Suite 202, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105
DUNS: 556921620
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Kevin Kjoller
 (805) 698-1819
Business Contact
 Kevin Kjoller
Title: BS
Phone: (805) 698-1819
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop a new nanoscale characterization system which will be capable of identifying molecular species on the surfaces of materials or living structures, through their vibrational Infrared (IR) spectral signatures, with sub-100nm spatial resolution and thus break the 5 micron resolution barrier that has limited IR spectroscopy and imaging. This 50 times improvement in spatial resolution of IR imaging and spectroscopy is enabled by our innovative multi-disciplinary approach which couples recent breakthroughs in tunable mid-IR lasers and near field thermal probes together with novel thermal detection techniques. The product will be based on an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) platform thus enabling this workhorse of nanotechnology research to have chemical analysis functionality, the lack of which is a crucial bottleneck for AFM users. As a detection mechanism, it will use photothermal effects created by laser irradiation, which will be monitored by a sensitive nanoprobe. In contrast to the research area of scanning near-field optical microscopy, the technique is expected to have much better signal-to-noise ratio (since we will no longer be limited by the difficulties associated with detection of small photon fluxes) thus enabling a real path to a commercially viable product. Commercially, ever since it led to the discovery of synthetic rubber during WWII, IR spectroscopy has remained a critical and ubiquitous analytical technique which itself comprises a $1Bill/yr industry and is crucial for the research and manufacturing in several multi-billion dollar industries such as materials and pharmaceuticals. However, the lack of nanoscale Infrared imaging and spectroscopy is leading to bottlenecks in the discovery of new materials given the large investment made by the Materials Industry in nanotechnology based research and manufacturing. Also, the impact to nano-biotechnology is pointed out by a letter of support which highlights applications in cancer screening and tissue remodeling. Another evidence for this broader impact is seen in the $200 Mill/yr Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) industry. The AFM is a workhorse instrument of nanotechnology research and the information it provides drives a large part of the $1.2 Bill National Nanotechnology Initiative funded research. However, the most serious bottleneck identified by all leading AFM users and manufacturers is the lack of chemical analysis functionality provided by the AFM. (Ranked as a Grand Challenge subject in the 2004 NIST conference on National Priorities for Nanometrology)

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

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