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A Hand-Held MEMS Sensor for Characterizing the RCRA Metals in Water (NASA 2001 SBIR Phase 1)
Investigator: Rufus Ritchie (PI), Chuck Witkowski, (865) 686-0700
Company: Qgenics, Inc., 1560 Maremont Road, Knoxville, TN 37918
Contract Information: NASA 2001 SBIR Phase I, Proposal # E4.03-8880 SSC
Period of Performance: NA
SBIR Funds: NA
Abstract: This SBIR project will test the feasibility of developing a hand-held microcantilever array sensor to detect and quantify the presence of hazardous RCRA metals in water. The sensor would consist of an array of specially prepared microcantilevers integrated onto a microcircuit. Binding and mass adsorption generate measurable defection and resonance frequency changes in the microcantilevers for superior sensitivity and selectivity. The objective of the Phase I work is to demonstrate the feasibility of using a microcantilever-based array to identify and quantify mercury compounds (Hg) under solution with superior time response, limit of detection, and cost relative to currently available compatible sensors. This objective is to be achieved by constructing a working bench top detection system consisting of an array of specially prepared microcantilevers. Potential commercial applications include the monitoring of contaminated ground water, surface water, and acid mine drainage; the analysis of drinking water supplies by municipal facilities or individuals; and the detection of metals in effluent from ground water and process water treatment facilities. The microcantilever array could be combined with other technologies to monitor pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen and provide a complete water-quality meter. Other applications could include private individuals interested in testing the metals (specifically lead) content of their tap water or the water obtained from their private ground-water well.