A team from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has created a device for use on the European ExoMars rover mission scheduled for launch in 2013. That space voyage is one of several planned expeditions to the red planet that will follow in the footsteps of NASA’s Phoenix mission, which landed on Mars late last month and this week began preparing to test soil samples.
The microfluidic or “lab-on-a-chip” device – which takes its name from the fact that the credit-card sized invention can perform multiple detailed laboratory tests – could be used to analyze Martian soil and rock for traces of biological compounds such as amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
But until they turned to materials called perfluoropolyethers (PFPEs), which were first pioneered for use in the field of microfluidics by Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and his colleagues in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, the NASA team was having trouble making a chip that could withstand the rigors of the proposed mission.
Jason Rolland, Ph.D., who helped invent PFPE materials for microfluidic devices when he was a graduate student in DeSimone’s lab, said the tiny apparatus handle very small volumes of liquids through tiny channels, and are similar to microelectronic chips, but for fluids. The elastic nature of PFPEs makes it possible to incorporate moving parts such as tiny valves into the devices.
In a paper co-written by Rolland and published recently in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Lab on a Chip, the NASA team, led by Peter Willis, Ph.D., said devices made using PFPE membranes sandwiched between layers of glass were easier to make and greatly outperformed other materials such as PDMS and PTFE, commercially known as Teflon®.
The chips also held up to severe stress testing, surviving the equivalent of 1 million operations at temperatures ranging from 50 degrees Celsius to minus 50 degrees Celsius virtually unscathed.
“It turned out that the material fit right into the sweet spot of what NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed to enable this device to work,” said Rolland, co-founder and director of research and development at Liquidia Technologies, a company which licensed the PFPE technology from UNC.
“There are several reasons to suspect that amino acids and other biological molecules could be found on the surface of Mars,” Rolland said. “If this device is able to confirm this, it would obviously be one of the most important discoveries of all time. It’s exciting to think that UNC and Liquidia Technologies could be a part of that.”
To see the study, go to: http://www.rsc.org/Publishing/Journals/LC/article.asp?doi=b804265a. For more information about Liquidia, go to www.liquidia.com. For information about NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov.Image: The ExoMars rover (photo credit: European Space Agency): http://uncnews.unc.edu/images/stories/news/science/2008/exomars%20rover_esa.jpg
Note: Rolland can be reached at (919) 991-0835 or Jason.Rolland@liquidia.com.
Patric Lane | newswise
When fluid flows almost as fast as light -- with quantum rotation
22.06.2018 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences
Thermal Radiation from Tiny Particles
22.06.2018 | Universität Greifswald
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.06.2018 | Life Sciences