NASA SBIR 2018-II Solicitation

Proposal Summary

 18-2- S1.11-3492
 In Situ Instruments/Technologies and Sample Processing for Ocean Worlds Life Detection
 Detecting Life in Ocean Worlds with Low-Capacitance Solid-State Nanopores
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
2200 Arch Street, Unit 504
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(267) 713-2662

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
David Niedzwiecki
4247 Locust St. 715
Philadelphia, PA 19104 - 5271
(914) 357-0285

BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Vanya Buvac
2200 Arch Street, Unit 504
Philadelphia, PA 19103 - 1343
(267) 687-9996

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 4
End: 6
Technical Abstract (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)

Solid-state nanopores have been identified as ideal candidates for robust and ultrafast single molecule detection and present a highly suitable candidate platform technology for this NASA SBIR Phase II solicitation under Focus Area 9: Sensors, Detectors and Instruments and subtopic S1.11 In Situ Instruments/Technologies and Sample Processing for Ocean Worlds Life Detection focused on concepts for “Ocean Worlds Life Detection Technology”.


We propose to develop a flight ready SiN nanopore-based sensor for detecting life in ocean worlds.  Detecting life in ocean worlds was previously attempted by NASA funded research with biological nanopore sensors, however these sensors are fragile and will not survive flight conditions.  Before nanopore technology is ready for integration into an actual NASA mission and sensing of new forms of molecules, several key technical questions have yet to be addressed, and an optimized nanopore sensor has to be built and fully tested against those requirements. Here, we propose to develop such a nanopore sensing device based on solid-state materials.


The main deliverable of the Phase II proposal is a solid-state nanopore sensor that best satisfies NASA mission requirements. Sensor’s specifications will be outlined and developed to satisfy the stringent NASA mission requirements, in consultation with NASA scientists. The sensor will be comprised of:


  • a solid-state nanopore array chip with the optimized nanopore material, coatings and processing
  • appropriate wiring and miniaturized Faraday cage
  • data acquisition and analysis software featuring current magnitude and molecule translocation time analysis, voltage-pulse-based pore de-clogging and other features
  • a user manual with a list of specifications for sample preparation prior to nanopore testing
  • a list of specifications required for upstream microfluidics integration.
Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

This project directly aligns with the SeqLOW COLDTech goals for the Development of Nanopore Sequencing for Automated Ocean World Life Detection led by Program Officer Christopher McKay at NASA Ames Research.

The technology also has potential insertions as an agnostic life detection instrument and small molecule sensor within the scientific payload for both Europa Lander and Enceladus Orbiter mission concepts and for possible follow on submersible missions. The technology would also be well suited for searching for extant life on Mars.

Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)

The proposed nanopore sensor architecture, with its miniaturized and robust design, has potential in a wide variety of terrestrial applications ranging from DNA sequencing, point-of-care diagnostics, human pathogen surveillance to agricultural. Additionally, the small molecule analysis capability can be applied to the EPA and USDA needs for measuring water quality.

Duration: 24

Form Generated on 05/13/2019 13:33:13