NASA SBIR 2016 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 16-1 H3.01-7869
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Environmental Monitoring
PROPOSAL TITLE: Real-Time Ethylene Sensor Based on Chemical Anisotropic Nanochannel Impedance Spectroscopy

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Nanolab, Inc.
179 Bear Hill Road
Waltham, MA 02451 - 1063
(781) 609-2722

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Thomas T Morgan
179 Bear Hill Road
Waltham, MA 02451 - 1063
(781) 609-2722

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. David Carnahan
179 Bear Hill Road
Waltham, MA 02451 - 1063
(781) 609-2722

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Environmental Monitoring is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA has need of a real-time sensor capable of <25ppb detection of ethylene for off-world greenhouse monitoring. NanoLab proposes the use of a fundamentally new style of sensor based off of anisotropic impedance analysis of vertically aligned nanotube arrays (VANTA). Specifically, we propose the use of chemical anisotropic nanochannel impedance spectroscopy (CANIS). This style of sensor provides up to eight degrees of analytical freedom, resulting in extreme discrimination between chemical species without requiring modification of the sensor to provide selectivity. For the particular application of ethylene sensing, NanoLab proposes the use of a carbon nanotube based CANIS sensor, sensitized to improve the interaction of ethylene with the surface, using either a metal or metal organic coating, in order to lower the limit of detection. The sensor will be self-referencing to minimize drift, and will be capable of simultaneously monitoring other relevant species, such as water, ethanol, acetaldehyde, and ammonia without interference to the detection of ethylene. The sensor will be lightweight, and have a footprint of 1cm x 1cm.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The CANIS sensor is a multifunction, broad based sensor capable of quantifying and discriminating a wide variety of small molecules in either the gas or liquid phase. This includes organic species, inorganic species, and ionic species. The opportunities for a light weight sensors of this sort span a multitude of applications. Specifically, NanoLab envisions the CANIS sensor for use in space stations, in monitoring not only the atmosphere, but the health of astronauts through urinalysis, saliva analysis, blood tests, and breath analysis to monitor important biometrics, such as blood and urine ionic strength, calcium content, pH, etc., as well as nutritional markers including glucose, and bilirubin.

Beyond biological assessments, the CANIS sensor has the ability to monitor atmospheric composition of inorganic and organic compounds in complex mixtures without the need for independent development of specific sensitizing agents. As such, NanoLab envisions the use of CANIS sensors in exploratory missions, such as Mars rovers, as well as in greenhouse monitoring, such as in the proposed effort.

The real analytical power of the CANIS system comes from the multiple degrees of freedom in the measurement without the need for sensitizers for many applications. This allows the sensor to fingerprint chemical species without needing prior knowledge of their existence.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This Phase I effort will expand our activities in sensors, which have been gaining significant momentum in the past years. The results of this Phase I work should provide a sensing platform appropriate for ethylene detection in on-world and off-world environments. In the envisioned Phase II effort, we will work to further optimize the limit of detection, and broaden the characterization of cross sensitive species. The developed sensor will find application in commercial growth, storage, and shipping of foods and minimize food spoilage. This sensor is just one application envisioned for the broadly functional CANIS style sensor, and will act as a launching point for development into medical, automotive, industrial, and laboratory sensors for both liquids and gasses. We see follow-on applications including:

1) Simple point of care medical devices capable of simultaneous monitoring of multiple biomarkers, such as for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

2) Laboratory gas and liquid analyzer for detection of known and unknown species in complex mixtures.

3) A robust industrial gas analyzer for determining trace and component gasses in process and waste gasses.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Analytical Methods
Biological (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Biomass Growth
Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Crop Production (see also Biological Health/Life Support)

Form Generated on 04-26-16 15:14