NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 B3.10-9471
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Sensors for Advanced Human Support Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: Real-Time Novel Holographic Monitoring of Airborne Trace Contaminants Onboard Space Vessels

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
AlphaSniffer LLC
1865 33rd Steet #A
Boulder, CO 80301-2514

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Oyvind Nilsen
1865 33rd Steet #A
Boulder, CO 80301-2514

New challenges and mission requirements constantly emerge, establishing the need for versatile equipment and instruments to perform the new/expanded tasks. AlphaSniffer propose the development of a compact chemical monitoring system that provides highly sensitive, selective, and rapid detection of trace contaminants that will be able to meet such new requirements. The monitoring system will have low power consumption and remain stable and reliable for 12 months or longer. The system is based on unique technology of detecting a chemical reaction/interaction of the sought-after chemical in a (polymeric) transducer material through real-time dynamic optical holography. Significant advantages over other competing sensor technologies include: fast response and recovery times (sub second), low ppb sensitivity, low power and compact size. Additionally transducer elements may easily be replaced if they are damaged/contaminated. The implementation of a single optical contact between the polymeric transducer element and the holographic detection system minimizes complications of replacing the sensing agents/transducers. Due to the rapid response, the transducer elements are only briefly exposed to the reacting/interacting chemical, drastically improving long-term stability and repeatability. When completed, this research should lead to the development of a compact state-of-the-art trace chemical monitoring system, with superior versatility and performance over other sensors.

Due to the rapid measurement cycle of our holographic instrument, new possibilities in terms of measurements emerge. NASA for instance, does significant research in life support systems and bio-habitats environments. In addition to cabin environment monitoring, a rapid monitoring system would be able to perform real time monitoring of the environment in a closed habitat with plants or mice, where ethylene, CO, NO or other agents may provide critical understanding of potential space habitats.
Potential monitoring of liquid in the future will also open for new applications. Waste monitoring, water quality monitoring, detection of hyrdazine and biomedical testing in space for human diagnostics are applications of interest.

AlphaSniffer's holographic detection technology can potentially become inexpensive and compact, while maintaining high performance. Together with low cost, replaceable transducers will enable AlphaSniffer to produce chemical and biological detection instruments that would not only target niche markets, but the general "consumer market" as well.
Potential applications include: detection instruments for first-responders, personal alert equipment for soldiers, inspection tools for law enforcement and customs, medical diagnostics tools, sensor networks for buildings and liquid process monitoring for the pharmaceutical industry.