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ORNL Wins Technology Transfer Awards for Mass Spectrometry Innovations

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has earned multiple Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) awards for excellence in technology transfer.

The FLC is a network of more than 300 federal laboratories, facilities and research centers dedicated to promoting and strengthening the commercialization of federal laboratory-developed technologies and expertise.

One of the awards recognized the Open Port Sampling Interfaces for Mass Spectrometry effort, licensed by SCIEX. This innovation dramatically simplifies mass spectrometry, enabling its wider use.

Mass spectrometry is used to perform chemical analysis with high selectivity and sensitivity, detecting and differentiating millions of chemicals in quantities down to 1 part per billion.

The simplicity of the device allows even novices with the means to introduce unprocessed solid or liquid samples into a mass spectrometer without fear of instrument contamination. To identify a compound, researchers simply touch the object of interest to the solvent dome at the sampling end of the probe, which is connected to a mass spectrometer. Almost instantaneously, a screen displays data that identifies the chemical and its approximate concentration.

Because this approach requires no sample preparation and the device is self-cleaning, the system is especially attractive for a wide range of applications.

The Open Port Sampling Interfaces for Mass Spectrometry technology was invented by Gary Van Berkel and Vilmos Kertesz of ORNL and Tom Covey and Kevin Smith of SCIEX. Also named on the award were Jennifer Caldwell, Edna Gergel and Marc Filligenzi of ORNL.

The Miniature Ion Trap Mass Analyzer, licensed by 908 Devices, was also recognized by FLC. This ORNL technology takes mass spectrometry to a new level, making it very easy to use and more affordable. 908 Devices products based on the ORNL technology have demonstrated important public safety benefits in law enforcement and hazardous materials detection.

The ORNL technology consists of a highly miniaturized implementation of an ion trap mass analyzer 10 times smaller than conventional scale ion traps. Despite its small size, the device offers the same resolving power as conventional-scale ion trap mass analyzers. The device is also extremely portable.

Products that utilize this technology are found in a range of 908 Devices instruments used in more than 18 countries. In addition, 908 Devices is working with the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Chemical Detector program to develop devices to detect and identify chemical warfare agents, toxic chemicals and other hazards.

The Miniature Ion Trap Mass Analyzer was developed by Michael Ramsey, formerly of ORNL, William Whitten of ORNL, and Kevin Knopp and Christopher Brown, co-founders of 908 Devices. Also named on the award were Jennifer Caldwell, Edna Gergel and Jud Hightower of ORNL.

ORNL was additionally recognized by FLC for two other programs: one for software which rapidly and accurately mines vast amounts of text data; and for a superhydrophobic transparent glass thin film coating technology.

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