Owlstone Nanotech, Inc., in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been selected as one of the 2010 R&D100 Award winners.
The Awards, sponsored by R&D Magazine, are widely recognized as the ‘Oscars of Innovation’, and identify and celebrate the most innovative technological breakthroughs of the year. Based on collaborative research involving Owlstone’s innovative microchip based Ion Mobility Spectrometer, the R&D100 Award acknowledges the potential of the technology to provide unprecedented analysis speed and sensitivity as a stand-alone sensor and to be seamlessly integrated into other analytical stages to enable more accurate measurements.
The technique, often referred to as Field Asymmetric waveform Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS), relies on the manipulation of electrically charged molecules, or ions, by an applied electric field. The separation of these ions as they traverse the electric field is critical to the chemical detection process.
In previous FAIMS systems, the distance ions travelled ranged from as little as 15 to 55 millimetres although this took too long for the desired performance. ‘We needed to shorten the racetrack,’ said PNNL chemist Alex Shvartsburg. But a shorter racetrack requires more intense electric fields to separate the pack of ions. So the team developed a FAIMS microchip with 0.3 millimetre-long channels that were only 35 micrometers wide. The short, narrow channels allow ion separation 100 to 10,000 times faster than previous instruments.
Bret Bader, CEO of Owlstone Nanotech commented, ‘It has been a great privilege for us to work with PNNL during this further exciting development of our FAIMS technology. We are thrilled to have been chosen for this Award and look forward to continuing our research activities with PNNL’