Integrated Device to Sample and Identify Surface Microorganisms

Period of Performance: 01/01/2004 - 12/31/2004

$600K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Lynntech, Inc.
COLLEGE STATION, TX 77845
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

It is well known that terrestrial microorganisms can thrive in a microgravity environment. There is a significant risk of transporting opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms from Earth to extraterrestrial environments, as well as the possibility of unfamiliar biocontaminants entering Earth?s atmosphere via flight hardware. Because these scenarios could pose significant health threats, reliable sampling and detection methods must be developed. Currently, there are no automated techniques for sampling spacecraft surfaces for microorganisms and providing real-time analysis for contamination, despite the desperate need for such a device. To overcome obstacles associated with conventional sampling and time-consuming detection methods, Lynntech has developed a unique vacuum surface sampling device which can be used in conjunction with a state of the art electrochemical based gene expression micro-detection unit. In the Phase I research, Lynntech successfully designed and fabricated the sampling unit, demonstrating its sampling capability on several surfaces. In addition, the microbiological electronic detection unit, including a cell lysing system and miniature thermal cycler, were successfully designed, built, and tested as individual benchtop components. The Phase II research will focus on the development and delivery of breadboard hardware to NASA for engineering and microbial evaluation.