NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 15.01-9450

PROJECT TITLE: Raman and SERS Imaging Probe for Extraterrestrial Bioparticle Discovery

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

The search for evidence of past or extant life on other planets is a highly significant venture in the US space program, particularly with regard to planned Martian exploration. Thus, means of rapid sorting of particles, their classification as microorganisms, and ultimately their identification in small instrument packages that can be deployed in interplanetary missions are required. We propose to develop a methodology and associated instrumentation for identifying and classifying microorganisms using Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). The method is based on the unique Raman signature provided by cellular and bacterial outer membranes adsorbed on certain nanostructured Raman signal-enhancing metal surfaces. The probe technology will be designed to interface with miniature, low power Raman instrumentation currently being developed by NASA for geological exploration. An additional outcome of the program will be a large database of microorganism SERS spectra, providing a fingerprint "catalog" for rapid reagentless classification. The goal of Phase I is to demonstrate feasibility and conditions for SERS of model bacteria and viruses. Phase II will be directed at sample preparation modules and Raman optical imaging probes suitable for remote analyses of planetary samples gathered, for example, by penetrometers on rover-type vehicles.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

Detection and monitoring of microbes in indoor air (combating "sick building syndrome"), water, food, medical fluids; monitors for biological warfare defense; cell/tissue growth bioprocess monitors; medical diagnostics.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Job M. Bello
EIC Laboratories, Inc.
111 Downey Street
Norwood , MA 02062-2612

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

EIC Laboratories, Inc.
111 Downey Street
Norwood , MA 02062-2612