SBIR Phase II: Multiplexed Smartphone-Based Handheld Sensor for Ion Contaminants Detection in Environmental Water

Period of Performance: 03/15/2017 - 02/28/2019


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

172 Corliss Dr. Array
Moraga, CA 94556
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the potential dollars saved in healthcare costs to environmental protection. The greatest overall savings cannot be judged only in dollars, but in helping to preserve human lives and end diseases and illnesses caused by problems with water. The product will provide unique opportunity to populations to test their water for safety and health benefits, in locations where good water treatment facilities do not exist. The water testing equipment market is divided into low-end, low-cost on-field test equipment (such as nitrate strip) that gives qualitative information about the analytes, and high-end testing devices used in labs (such as mass spectrometer) providing accurate quantitative information. If successful, the sensor technology will bridge the gap by providing low-cost, sensitive, accurate tools for quantitative measurement of analytes. The portable, low-cost, plug and play sensor product will cater to the needs of the water quality monitoring market. The product will also mobilize ?citizen scientist? to partake in environmental data collection and popularize sustainability education. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 project is expected to lead to the development of a multiplexed, low-cost, portable instrument capable of making real time measurements of nitrate and phosphate in water and soil samples. The sensor system for this instrument will be based on the highly selective nitrate and phosphate reducing working electrodes along with reagents contained in the microfluidics to perform real-time sensing without sample preparation. As the concentrations of phosphate in solution are usually small, and since the inorganic phosphate in a water sample is changing due to biological processes, time is often a critical factor in taking measurements of phosphate. Due to these factors, there is a need for sensitive, inexpensive, and portable instruments in order to monitor the eutrophication process effectively. Currently available instruments for making phosphate measurements in the field do not adequately address these needs. Phase I development showed that disposable electrode with microfluidic integration, and smartphone app controlled sensor is capable of detecting nitrate with high sensitivity and specificity. Phase II proposal is focused on commercialization of the nitrate sensor and development of multiplexed sensor platform to detect multiple ions such as nitrate, and phosphate for larger commercial market.