Zebra Analytix Receives Phase I SBIR Award from the National Institutes of Health

Funds Will Enable Development of Instrument to Rapidly and Directly Analyze Drinking Water Samples at the Point of Collection.

 

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – Zebra Analytix™, a VIC Technology Venture Development portfolio company, announced today that it has received a National Institute of Environment Health Sciences (NIEHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in the amount of $225,000. The funds will be used to investigate the technical feasibility of a microfabricated purge-and-trap chip system for enabling on-site or in-field, highly sensitive analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in water samples.

On-site, real-time measurement of VOCs in water is critical for the rapid assessment of environmental contamination. Today, most water quality monitoring programs rely on collecting large quantities of water for trace level detection. Transportation of these samples to laboratories—while preserving the integrity of the sample—is a major risk. The subsequent analysis provides only a snapshot of the levels of pollutants at the time of sampling, and can result in missed episodic pollution events. In addition, the cost of such analysis can range from $100 to $1,000 per sample, including man-hours and consumables cost.

The Zebra Analytix approach is based on a proprietary miniaturized, modular analytical innovation—called microGC—developed by company co-founder Masoud Agah, at Virginia Tech. Zebra’s microGC is a miniature gas chromatography system based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. In addition to detecting potential contaminants from water, the microsystem can be adjusted to extract and concentrate VOCs from other liquid samples, and thus, can be a valuable tool for food safety and quality testing, biomonitoring, and clinical diagnosis, among other applications.

“The funding from the NIH is further validation of both the unmet need for better options for point-of-sampling analysis, as well as the recognized potential of the Zebra Analytix technology to make a sizeable impact in the space,” stated Dr. Michael Artinger, CEO. “As a young, innovation-driven company, the support provided by the SBIR program is essential for expanding into new applications and dramatically enhancing the overall value proposition of the resulting commercial product.”

This research is supported by the National Institute of Environment Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number 1R43ES030634-01 titled “Plug-and-Play Microsystem Enabling Highly Sensitive Analysis of Volatile Organic Compounds.” The content of this press release is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About VIC Technology Venture Development

VIC’s unique investment model sources innovation directly from universities across the nation, offering funding to form new start-up companies and advance these technologies. In addition to the initial capital, VIC provides its portfolio companies with both business and scientific resources, such as interim management, accounting, marketing, research, and others to creating a complete venture development ecosystem. For more information, please visit https://www.victech.com

Zebra Analytix, Inc. Awarded Competitive Grant from the National Science Foundation

Miniaturized gas chromatography system allows vastly decreased instrument size, versatility, portability, and speed of results.

 

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – Zebra Analytix™ is pleased to announce it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award of $225,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue development of its miniaturized gas chromatography (microGC) analytical technology. Gas chromatography (GC) is a technique used worldwide in analytical chemistry to separate and analyze volatile organic compounds, which are gases emitted from certain solids and liquids, and is used in a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry, environmental monitoring, clinical chemistry, food processing, and petroleum distillation, among others.

Zebra Analytix was co-founded by VIC Technology Venture Development™ and Masoud Agah, Ph.D., Zebra’s Chief Technology Officer. Dr. Agah is the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC) Professor of Engineering in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. Upon joining Virginia Tech in 2005, he established its Microelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, the VT MEMS Lab, and has focused his research on environmental and biomedical applications of MEMS. The company was established to develop and commercialize miniature gas chromatography (GC) systems based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology developed by Dr. Agah and exclusively licensed from Virginia Tech University. The patents-pending technology offers microfabricated chips capable of multi-channel separations. Advantages include vastly decreased instrument size, versatility, portability, and speed of results.

The company is focused on creating game-changing analytical solutions spanning diverse, high-impact applications where rapid detection is essential: healthcare, defense, energy, the environment, food safety and others. As the world population grows, ensuring access to life essentials becomes ever more difficult. The increasing global incidence of food recalls, contaminated water, and polluted air are significant cause for concern, highlighting the need for better monitoring. Many GC systems currently in use commercially are large, bulky, stationary, costly machines requiring that samples to be tested be brought to the machine. Zebra Analytix’ microGC platform can be operated by non-experts to analyze volatile compounds within seconds. This system, with its potential applications for wearable and portable detection devices, has drawn attention from the fields of health care, environmental monitoring, industrial, petrochemical and automotive applications, building automation, and homeland security, especially driven by global government regulations for safety.

“We are delighted to have been selected to participate in the prestigious NSF SBIR program,” said Dr. Michael Artinger, CEO of Zebra Analytix. “Not only is the funding important for creating beta-testing-ready prototypes specifically designed for a top application of the microGC platform, NSF’s unique Boot Camp and customer discovery programs will challenge our assumptions about the market, and ensure that the final product addresses end-user requirements.”

Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $225,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $750,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales. NSF accepts Phase I proposals from small businesses twice annually in June and December. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply. All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program undergo a rigorous merit-based review process.

About VIC Technology Venture Development

VIC’s unique investment model sources innovation directly from universities across the nation, offering funding to form new start-up companies and advance these technologies. In addition to the initial capital, VIC provides its portfolio companies with both business and scientific resources, such as interim management, accounting, marketing, research, and others to creating a complete venture development ecosystem. For more information, please visit https://victech.com

Research reported in this release is supported by the National Science Foundation under Award ID: 1841929, PI: Su. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Science Foundation.

How Zebra Analytix™ Uses Innovative Micro Preconcentrators (Traps) to Advantage in Its Miniature Gas Chromatography Systems

Micro Pre-concentrators

Micro Pre-concentrators

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including semi-VOCs, are one of the most important classes of environmental pollutants because of their significant health effects. On-site or in-field, real-time measurement of VOCs is critical to timely assess environmental contamination, to develop effective risk management strategies, and to protect environmental and human health. Although many portable and handheld gaseous VOC detectors are commercially available, they are unsuitable for on-site or in-field, sensitive VOC analysis due to the lack of an automated miniature sampling/preconcentration platform that can directly handle samples. Zebra Analytix is developing a microsystem that can be coupled to these portable/handheld instruments for addressing this critical unmet need. Moreover, it can be adjusted to extract and concentrate VOCs from other liquid samples for food quality/safety testing, biomonitoring, clinical diagnosis, etc. The microsystem can also be modified for concentration of VOCs from gaseous samples or for extraction and concentration of VOCs from solid samples.

But, how can a handheld, miniature gas chromatography (GC) system accomplish the concentrations of VOCs needed to produce results? The system being developed consists of two chips in a tandem configuration. The first chip is designed to extract VOCs directly from samples. The extracted VOCs are concentrated in the second chip, in which the concentrated VOCs can be released on demand for subsequent analysis. In conventional preconcentrators, the packed structures can provide high adsorption capacity but they have disadvantages.

Micro preconcentrators (µPCs ) can be divided into three broader categories. The first consists of micro-cavities or micro-channels filled with granular forms of adsorbent material. The second type utilizes adsorbent materials in thin film form deposited on a membrane or inside microfabricated channels/cavities. In the first category, drawbacks include high-pressure drops and power consumption, and higher costs. The µPCs in the second category, on the other hand, have low power consumption and are typically manufactured with a MEMS-compatible process; however, they have limited capacity due to small surface areas.

Zebra’s µPC belongs to the third category, which is characterized by forming closely-spaced high-aspect-ratio embedded microposts and coating them with a thin film adsorbent layer. This category is an innovative approach for increasing adsorbent sites (concentration factor and sample capacity) while avoiding high-pressure drops and power consumption. Dr. Masoud Agah, Zebra’s Chief Technology Officer, along with his group, is one of the pioneers in the development of this approach.


The article appeared, in part, in Pittcon Today, February 28, 2018

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Zebra Analytix™ Introduces Chip-scale Gas Chromatography from Injection through Detection

Zebra Micro-GC™

Zebra Micro-GC™

Zebra Analytix has selected Pittcon 2018 to introduce its new miniature gas chromatography (GC) systems, based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology exclusively licensed from Virginia Tech University. The patents-pending technology offers microfabricated chips capable of multi-channel separations. Advantages include vastly decreased instrument size, versatility, portability, and speed of results.

 

Gas chromatography is a technique used worldwide in analytical chemistry to separate and analyze volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases emitted from certain solids and liquids. GC is able to split chemical mixtures into their components and allows scientists to detect and identify VOCs in many substances including air, water, plant and animal tissues, and soil. GC is used in a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry, environmental monitoring, clinical chemistry, food processing, and petroleum distillation, among others. Many GC systems currently in use commercially are large, bulky, stationary, costly machines requiring that samples to be tested be brought to the machine.

 

The miniature gas chromatography platform offered by Zebra Analytix can be operated by non-experts to analyze volatile compounds within seconds.

This Mini-GC system, with its potential applications for wearable and portable detection devices, has drawn attention from the fields of health care, environmental monitoring, industrial, petrochemical and automotive applications, building automation, and homeland security, especially driven by global government regulations for safety.

 

Zebra Analytix was co-founded by VIC Technology Venture Development, together with Masoud Agah, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of Zebra. Dr. Agah is the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC) Professor of Engineering in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. Upon joining Virginia Tech in 2005, he established its Microelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, the VT MEMS Lab, and has focused his research on environmental and biomedical applications of MEMS, receiving the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award in 2008 to support his research on micro gas chromatography. Dr. Agah has received numerous other awards and recognition for his research throughout his career, and is a core member of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

 

Calvin Goforth, Ph.D., interim CEO of Zebra Analytix, notes that Zebra’s miniature GC platform has the same components of a standard GC system, in addition to complete sample preparation and capture on a chip-scale device. This opens up many new applications.


The article appeared, in part, in Pittcon Today, February 27, 2018

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VIC Technology Venture Development Forms New Portfolio Company, Zebra Analytix, Inc.

Company co-founded with Masoud Agah, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer and developer of MEMS-based, miniature gas chromatography system.

 

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – VIC Technology Venture Development, LLC has announced that it has formed Zebra Analytix, Inc. The company was established to develop and commercialize miniature gas chromatography (GC) systems based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology exclusively licensed from Virginia Tech University. The patents-pending technology offers microfabricated chips capable of multi-channel separations.  Advantages include vastly decreased instrument size, versatility, portability, and speed of results.

Company co-founder Masoud Agah, Ph.D., has been named Chief Technology Officer of Zebra Analytix. Dr. Agah is the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC) Professor of Engineering in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech.  Upon joining Virginia Tech in 2005, he established its Microelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, the VT MEMS Lab, and has focused his research on environmental and biomedical applications of MEMS, receiving the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award in 2008 to support his research on micro gas chromatography. Dr. Agah has received numerous other awards and recognition for his research throughout his career, and is a core member of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

Gas chromatography is a technique used worldwide in analytical chemistry to separate and analyze volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases emitted from certain solids and liquids. GC is able to split chemical mixtures into their components and allows scientists to detect and identify VOCs in many substances including air, water, plant and animal tissues, and soil.  GC is used in a wide range of applications in the pharmaceutical industry, environmental monitoring, clinical chemistry, food processing, and petroleum distillation, among others. Many GC systems currently in use commercially are large, bulky, stationary, costly machines requiring that samples to be tested be brought to the machine.

The miniature gas chromatography platform being developed by Zebra Analytix, can be operated by non-experts to analyze volatile compounds within seconds. This Mini-GC system, with its potential applications for wearable and portable detection devices, has drawn attention from the fields of health care, environmental monitoring, industrial, petrochemical and automotive applications, building automation, and homeland security, especially driven by global government regulations for safety.

“Gas chromatography is a multi-billion dollar global market with applications across numerous industries. Dr. Agah’s research at Virginia Tech leads the way in realizing a true micro GC system that offers near real-time results in a high performance yet affordable instrument,” said Calvin Goforth, interim CEO of Zebra Analytix. “Zebra Analytix will have strong opportunities in both existing GC market segments and new high-impact applications such as point-of-care cancer screening through detection of volatile organic compounds in breath.”

“I am excited about the formation of Zebra Analytix to take our unique ideas and technologies from the lab to the market. Our MicroGC technology at Virginia Tech MEMS Lab has gone well beyond just miniaturizing GC,” said Masoud Agah, Zebra Analytix’ Chief Technology Officer.  “Zebra Analytix puts microGC in the palm of one’s hands with a vast range of applications in industry and academia.  These microsystems, whether used as standalone sensors or as part of Internet of Things (IoT), will enable continuous analysis of volatile organic compounds and thereby provide unprecedented data about our health, food, space, environment, and working places.”

About Zebra Analytix, Inc.

Zebra Analytix, Inc. was established in 2017 to develop and commercialize miniature GC systems based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) based separation columns with built-in sensors and heating elements. The company’s patents pending technology offers advantages in instrument size, performance, versatility, and speed of results. The technology also offers new capabilities such as multi-channel partial separations on a single MEMS chip for use as an “electronic nose”. Zebra Analytix’ micro GC technology opens up new market opportunities not presently served by other GC providers including real-time process control applications that take advantage of the exceptional speed of results. Zebra Analytix is a portfolio company of VIC Technology Venture Development.

About VIC Technology Venture Development, LLC

VIC Technology Venture Development, LLC is a technology venture development firm that creates innovative new companies with world changing science and engineering based technologies. VIC carefully selects and licenses technologies from universities and research institutions, then partners technology entrepreneurs with business experts, technology experts and seed stage investors. VIC provides its portfolio companies with senior management expertise, intimate knowledge of technology startups, and proven processes to execute business strategies. Its team members bring extensive experience across legal, financial, operations, marketing, capital acquisition, and technology management areas. VIC experts help their portfolio companies meet management and business planning goals by providing appropriate support at each stage in their development, only as it is needed. For more information, please visit https://www.victvd.com.