In order to provide a fast, simple and reliable way of identifying inorganics and organics present in the water systems aboard the ISS (and potentially other spacecraft), we propose to develop a robust, portable and easy-to-use sensor system based on solid-state nanopore technology. The system would enable in situ detection and quantification of analytes of interest by utilizing a low noise and low capacitance glass chip with an ultrathin silicon nitride (SiN) material which has flight heritage. The signal recording system would be designed to be compact (cm-scale) and easy to operate, and we would provide detailed instruction on its use, data collection and analysis. The instrument would enable determination of inorganic and organic species present in water samples, and establish a miniaturized analytical laboratory for future NASA missions. Sensor’s specifications will be outlined and developed to satisfy the detailed and stringent NASA mission requirements, in consultation with NASA scientists. The proposed deliverable will be a solid-state pore chip integrated to corresponding miniaturized electronics for high signal-to-noise ratio and multiple analyte detection, together with the data acquisition and analysis software featuring current and time analysis, voltage-pulse-based pore de-clogging button and other advanced features. We will document the proposed innovation, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses compared to the state-of-the-art and propose further development to be performed in a subsequent Phase II. In order to deliver the advanced instrument and based on the current state of the market, state-of-the-art and Goeppert’s previous endeavors, we articulate and propose the following Technical Objectives: 1) Fabricate ultrathin and sensitive SiN nanopore chips, 2) Measure a wide range of pure analytes of interest to NASA and 3) Establish a database for NASA with all measurement parameters and results.
Our technology features a novel single-molecule detection method designed for water monitoring in spacecraft. This advanced instrument can be crucial to support the life of crew residing in the ISS for months at a time. The ISS is a highly controlled, stable and isolated environment. The maintenance of safe living conditions in ISS is important to support the scientific activities of the crew, and to ensure their safe and unharmed return to Earth upon mission completion.
The proposed nanopore sensor architecture, with its miniaturized and robust design has potential in a wide variety of terrestrial applications ranging from DNA sequencing, point-of-care diagnostics, human pathogen surveillance to agricultural. Additionally, the small molecule analysis capability can be applied to the EPA and USDA needs for measuring water quality.