STTR Phase I: Miniature Biosensor Utilizing Nanomaterial Coatings

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Prime Photonics, LLC
1116 South Main Street Array
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Sponsored Programs 0170
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Institution POC


This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program proposes combining photonic sensing, nanotechnology and biotechnology to demonstrate a new type of biosensor for laboratory use and rapid response to biological threats. The proposed device will be constructed from a new type of chemical-biological sensor which uses fiber optic grating sensor technology enhanced with unique new nanomaterial coatings. The combination of the new sensing method with the nanomaterial properties will result in a low-cost, rapid, highly sensitive and miniature device capable of battery operation and integration into a deployable unit. Detection has been demonstrated both for fluid-borne and air-borne targets, and the technique will detect bacteria, nerve agents, proteins and explosives. Expected detection limits for the final device range from 100 to 1000 times better than is currently possible using existing laboratory systems. Development of such a biosensor will require a concerted multidisciplinary effort in optical physics, biochemistry, and polymer and interfacial chemistry. If successful the proposed project will advance scientific knowledge in the following areas: (1) Advance the understanding of photonic sensing through the study of electromagnetic/optical field interactions in the photonic waveguide structures and in the overlying nanomaterial films, (2) Advance the development of nanomaterial applications through study of the covalent binding mechanisms between the affinity ligands and the ionic self-assembled multilayers (ISAM) film polymers, resulting in a general procedure for incorporating multiple classes of targets, (3) Advance the development of combinatorial evaluation techniques utilizing automated reasoners to reduce the requirement for high specificity sensing vectors, ultimately leading to intelligent sensing and reduced false alarm indications, and (4) Provide advanced educational opportunities through support of graduate and undergraduate students at Virginia Tech, specifically in the condensed matter and biotechnology areas.