Plasma Lysis Decontamination System with Mass Spectrometric Detection

Period of Performance: 01/01/2002 - 12/31/2002


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Napneumatics, Inc.
3333 164th St., S.W. #1728
Lynnwood, WA 98037
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Napneumatics, Inc. has recently developed an atmospheric pressure, low temperature plasma lysis unit that can highly efficiently and universally deactivate biological materials including vegetative cells, spores, toxins, and viruses on surfaces. The plasma lysis approach presented in this proposal offers a number of advantages over other state-of-the-art techniques, including: (1) extremely high decontamination efficiency, (2) very short decontamination times of in the order of 10 seconds or less, (3) high versatility and ability to control the process due to low system inertia and the use of electric fields, (4) produces no waste heat or materials, (5) can be easily integrated into a complete decontamination and detection system, and (6) enhances the performance of the downstream detection systems. The goal of this project is to evaluate the feasibility of miniaturization of this technique for the development of a hand-held unit that simultaneously decontaminates a surface by plasma treatment and identifies the biological contaminants while archiving data. This plasma lysis unit extracts the intracellular components of biological materials on a surface to facilitate identification by mass spectrometry. After plasma treatment for 60 seconds or less, a micromachined virtual impactor collector (MicroVIC) extracts the particles from the surface and deposits onto a one-millimeter spot on a tape (for archiving). These biological materials on the spot are softly ionized by means of a matrix assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) technique and the particles are identified by a miniature time-of-flight mass spectrometer. Concurrently, the vaporized cellular components from the surface biological materials are adsorbed for mass spectrometry analysis. Both the biological particulate spectra and vapor breakdown products allow a complete picture of the biological material to be formed from terrestrial or possibly extraterrestrial material.