Mountain View, CA, United States
Mountain View, CA, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.12K | Year: 2011

Many different types of metals and their chemical species are present in groundwater and soil at DOE sites. Mercury is a particular concern because it is a very toxic element that is widely spread in the atmosphere and water. Despite advances to measurement technology at laboratory level, the real time in-situ monitoring technologies for mercury and other metals are still lacking both in terms of selectivity and sensitivity. Los Gatos Research will develop a novel lab-on-a-chip technology capable of performing real time, in situ measurements of trace mercury and their chemical species with high selectivity and sensitivity. During the Phase I effort, we have established the technical feasibility of performing on-chip mercury speciation. In particular, we have successfully performed on-chip separations of mercury ions (Hg2+) and methylmercury ions (CH3Hg+) in an aqueous solution with UV laser induced fluorescence detection. In addition, we have also successfully demonstrated automated on-chip sample preparation and analysis capability. The Phase II objectives include further improving the detection sensitivity, optimizing the automated on-chip sample preparation process, as well as miniaturizing the Phase I instrumentation. By reducing the footprint and power consumption, the Phase II prototype will be compact, lightweight, and battery powered ideally suited for on-site real time monitoring and characterization of mercury species in the subsurface environments. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed technology can also be employed to monitor other metals, radionuclides, and organic molecules. In addition, the lab-on-a-chip technology possesses commercial potential in pharmaceutical and biotechnology markets, including components for DNA, protein and drug separation and analysis, blood testing and detecting chemical and biological agents, as well as pesticide and pollution monitoring.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 748.22K | Year: 2012

In this STTR effort, Los Gatos Research (LGR) and the University of Wisconsin (UW) propose to develop a highly-accurate sensor for high-purity oxygen determination. The analyzer, which is based on LGR's patented Off-Axis ICOS technique, will be capable of rapidly quantifying high-purity oxygen (95 – 100 %) with very high accuracy (better than ? 0.03 %), minimal calibration, and no zero drift. Moreover, the sensor will require no consumables and be sufficiently compact and robust for deployment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). In Phase I, LGR and UW successfully demonstrated technical feasibility by fabricating a prototype that quantified high-purity oxygen with a precision of ? 0.017 % and a 24-hour drift of less than 0.05 %. The analyzer distinguished a 0.1 % change in highly pure oxygen and provided a linear response (R2 = 0.999997) over a wide dynamic range (0 – 100 % oxygen). The prototype was found to be accurate to 0.07 % by testing it at NASA Johnson Space Center on oxygen purified by the Cabin Air Separator for EVA Oxygen (CASEO) project. Due to the success of this program, LGR released a commercial O2/CO2 analyzer for environmental applications. In Phase II, LGR and UW will refine the measurement strategy, miniaturize the hardware, ruggedize the analyzer, and test the resulting instrument. The measurement strategy will be improved to reduce long-term drift and extended to include other species (H2O, O2 isotopes, N2). The hardware will be modified to meet the technical requirements for deployment aboard the ISS (e.g. power, size, weight, and environmental specifications). The prototype will be manufactured and tested to empirically determine its accuracy, precision, linearity, long-term drift, and time response. Finally, the Phase II instrument will be delivered to researchers in the Life Support and Habitability Systems Branch at NASA Johnson Space Centers for characterization of high-purity oxygen generators.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 748.67K | Year: 2012

Los Gatos Research (LGR) proposes to develop highly-accurate, lightweight, low-power gas analyzers for measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) aboard NASAs Sensor Integrated Environmental Remote Research Aircraft (SIERRA) unmanned aerial system (UAS). These analyzers, which will exploit both conventional mid and near-infrared tunable diode laser spectrometry and LGR's patented Off-Axis ICOS technology, will be capable of meeting the stringent weight, power, and environmental requirements for UAS deployments. At the conclusion of the Phase II effort, LGR will deliver and deploy two complete systems. The first analyzer will make extremely rapid (> 20 Hz) airborne eddy flux covariance measurements of CO2 and H2O. The second instrument will measure CO2 isotopes aboard SIERRA, allowing a better understanding of the chemistry, transport, and exchange of carbon between the atmosphere, anthropogenic sources, and natural carbon sinks and sources in the terrestrial biosphere. Airborne measurements enable regional-scale investigations of carbon sources and sinks as well as measurements where conventional tower flux deployments are infeasible. These data will complement current satellite observations by providing higher horizontal resolution and vertical profiling, enabling better quantification of carbon sources and sinks. Such deployments are critically important to NASA's Earth Science Division, because they enable more efficient and cost-effective Earth observations.


Patent
Los Gatos Research, Inc. | Date: 2013-05-21

A tunable mid-infrared laser operated in a pulsed mode is coupled off-axis into a high-finesse optical cavity to produce a long-path spectrometer. The cavity receives a gas sample. Laser pulses may be wavelength-scanned by stepping an external grating, allowing the grating to mechanically settle, then measuring the ring-down with a set of laser pulses, before moving on the next wavelength. A detector receiving infrared light exiting the cavity supplies a cavity ring-down trace representative of sample absorption of the infrared pulses. A processor determines an absolute absorption spectrum of the gas sample from the ring-down trace and analyzes sample gas composition and trace concentration from that spectrum. The absorption baseline is highly reproducible and stable, improving the accuracy of multivariate fits, and the spectral resolution can be better than 0.001 cm^(1 )(contingent upon the laser source), allowing for high-resolution measurements of sharp absorption features.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 990.04K | Year: 2013

DOE is responsible for the remediation of 1.7 trillion gallons of contaminated ground water and 40 million cubic meters of contaminated soil generated at over 7000 sites from past weapons activities. This remediation includes bioremediation, where substances are injected into the subsurface to enhance microbial decomposition. Several methods have been utilized by researchers to quantify bioremediation rates; however, these techniques require extensive sample preparation, making them unsuitable for field deployment. Improved methods are required to quantify bioremediation rates and bacterial activity. Recent studies have shown that denitrifying bacteria produce N2O with a distinct isotope ratio (15N/14N, 18O/16O, and site-specific ratios). By measuring the isotope ratio of N2O extracted from the soil, researchers can obtain a measure of bacterial activity and bioremediation rates. However, current technology involves extensive sampling and isotope ratio mass spectrometery. In this program, LGR proposes to develop a field-deployable analyzer for the accurate determination of N2O isotopes. In Phase I, LGR demonstrated technical feasibility by fabricating a prototype for quantification of [N2O], 15N, 15N15Nand 18O with a precision of 0.05 ppb, 0.4 , 0.45 , 0.6 , and 1.2 respectively. Measurements of calibrated standards demonstrated that the sensor was accurate to 1 ppb and 1 for N2O concentration and isotope ratios respectively with a linear response over a wide dynamic range of [N2O] = 150 10000 ppb. The instrument was deployed with Professor von Fischer (Colorado State University) with 15N-labelling experiments to identify nitrification and denitrification pathways in soil samples obtained from NSF LTER sites. In Phase II, LGR will develop an improved sensor for the isotope determination of ambient N2O emitted from soils and groundwater. The sensor will include provisions for batch gas sampling, chamber measurements, and periodic calibration. LGR will work with the IAEA (at no cost to this program) to compare the system to an established isotope measurement laboratory. Subsequently, the instrument will be deployed for field soil studies with Professor von Fischer. A second instrument will be deployed at the DOE IFRC site in ORNL for long-term, continuous monitoring of bacterial denitrification in soils. LGR will also extend the instrument to measure 17O in concentrated N2O samples. A Phase II funding commitment will be used to utilize the SBIR instrument to make isotope measurements of N2O obtained from bacterial digestion of dissolved nitrates for water pollution attribution. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: During Phase III, LGR will sell the N2O isotope analyzers to isotope measurement laboratories, environmental research groups, global monitoring stations, and water quality management agencies. A market analysis suggests a 5-year commercial revenue exceeding $40M for these four markets alone.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 992.83K | Year: 2012

A detailed understanding of carbon cycle is limited by the availability of rapid, accurate, and easy-to-use isotope analyzers. Researchers use stable isotope data to study: 1) recycling of CO2 within forests; 2) water use efficiency; 3) partitioning carbon exchange into its components; and 4) identify and quantify the distribution and contributions of C3 and C4 species to global productivity. Los Gatos Research proposes to develop a rugged, field-deployable, Off-Axis Integrated Cavity Output Spectroscopy (Off-Axis ICOS) instrument for eddy flux and chamber flux measurements of CO2 concentration and isotope ratios (13C, 18O, and 17O) in ambient air. LGR demonstrated technical feasibility by fabricating an Off-Axis ICOS instrument that measured CO2 concentration, 13C, 18O, and 17O to better than 0.022 ppm, 0.084 , 0.093 , and 0.186 respectively (1, 100s) on both ambient air and syringe-injected samples. Moreover, the instrument provided a measurement rate of 9.1 Hz for eddy correlation flux measurements. The [CO2] and 13C accuracy of analyzer was better than 0.30 ppm and 0.16 respectively over a wide dynamic range of CO2 concentrations (271 - 2961 ppm). The instrument was interfaced to a soil-gas sampler to record the isotope flux from soils. LGR then worked with Professor Dennis Baldocchi (UC Berkeley) to deploy the instrument at a DOE Amerflux site in Sherman Island, California. Finally, the Phase I instrument was also used to provide mobile monitoring data for the development of Isoscapes. In Phase II, LGR will refine the instrument to increase its accuracy, precision, dynamic range, and stability. A calibration scheme will help optimize precision and minimize concentration dependences. The instrument will be interfaced to other analyzers and a gas injection system. The analyzer will be tested at LGR before delivery to Professor Ralph Keeling (Scripps) for independent verification on calibrated samples and ambient air. Subsequently, LGR will fabricate additional units and work with Professor Chris Still (UC Santa Barbara) and Professor Dennis Baldocchi (UC Berkeley) to deploy the instruments at an Experiment Forest and to study the carbon water cycle interactions and the Sherman Island DOE Ameriflux site for long-term monitoring of CO2 isotope fluxes. Finally, LGR will evaluate using the technology to quantify 14CO2 and 13C18O16O (clumped isotopes). Additionally, LGR is providing a Phase II Funding Commitment to interface a combustion front-end unit to the analyzer. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed SBIR analyzer has significant commercial potential for environmental research, medical diagnostics, and other isotope applications (e.g. mining, food verification)


Grant
Agency: Department of Agriculture | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 450.00K | Year: 2013

In this Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) effort, Los Gatos Research (LGR) proposes to utilize its patented Off-Axis ICOS technology to develop an analyzer for the accurate determination of 15N/14N, 18O/16O, and 17O/16O isotope ratios in nitrates (d15N, d18O, and d17O). The system will employ the bacterial denitrification method to convert nitrates (NO3-) into N2O, and then utilize a mid-infrared Off-Axis ICOS analyzer to rapidly ( & lt; 5 minutes) determine nitrate concentration, d15N, d18O, and d17O to better than & plusmn; 1%, & plusmn; 0.2 & permil;, & plusmn; 0.5 & permil;, and & plusmn; 0.5 & permil; respectively. Nitrate contamination in water is an ubiquitous, world-wide problem, and the resulting instrument will help provide nitrate source apportionment, identify multiple nitrate sources, study spatial mixing of nitrate pollution, and identify areas in which natural nitrate attenuation processes are taking place. Additionally, the SBIR analyzer can be used to help quantify the nitrate pollution and N2O emission impacts of emerging biofuels. In Phase I, LGR demonstrated technical feasibility by fabricating a prototype system for quantification of N2O, 15N14NO, 14N15NO, and 14N14N18O in digested nitrate samples. The prototype was tested on a variety of gas cylinders and found to quantify [N2O], d15N, d15Na, d15Nb, and d18O with a precision of & plusmn;0.01 ppb, & plusmn;0.42 & permil;, & plusmn;0.40 & permil;, & plusmn;0.50 & permil;, and & plusmn;0.75 & permil; respectively (1s, 1000s for [N2O] = 320 ppb). Repeated measurements of discrete reference gas injections demonstrated that the Phase I sensor was precise to better than & plusmn;0.25 & permil; and & plusmn;0.53 & permil; for d15N and d18O respectively with minimal dependence of the isotope ratio on nitrous oxide concentration over a wide dynamic range of [N2O] = 0.25 - 2 ppm. Potential cross-interferences with ambient water vapor and higher hydrocarbons were mitigated by using front-end cold trap. The instrument was then used to characterize nitrate-polluted water samples obtained from the Abbotsford aquifer (British Columbia, Canada). The Phase I system was directly compared to isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) measurements and found to be accurate to within & plusmn;2.4 & permil; and & plusmn;3.2 & permil; for d15N and d18O. This data clearly showed that the high levels of nitrate pollution were due to animal waste and fertilizer ammonium runoff and not to atmospheric deposition or fertilizer nitrate runoff. Due to the novelty of the Phase I measurements, they will be presented at the European Geophysical Union Spring Meeting (Vienna, Austria) and the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (San Francisco, California). Finally, the results were also used to help identify Phase II improvements. In Phase II, Los Gatos Research will refine the Nitrate Isotope Analyzer hardware, electronics, and software to improve the instrument accuracy, precision, and stability. Then, the technology will be extended to include measurements of d17O. The instrument will be automated by including provisions for autonomous sample conversion and handing. Subsequent to extensive laboratory testing at LGR, the analyzer will be deployed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (Vienna, Austria) and tested by the Isotope Hydrology Laboratory at no charge to this SBIR effort. A second Nitrate Isotope Analyzer will be fabricated and deployed at Purdue University, where Professor Greg Michalski in the Department of Chemistry will verify its accuracy against an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) and use it to quantify water pollution sources including atmospheric deposition, nitrate fertilizers, and soil runoff. During Phase III, LGR will sell the N2O isotope analyzers to isotope measurement laboratories, environmental research groups, global monitoring stations, and water quality management agencies. A preliminary market analysis suggests a 5-year commercial revenue exceeding $40M for these


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 693.79K | Year: 2013

In this SBIR effort, Los Gatos Research (LGR) will employ its patented mid-infrared Off-Axis ICOS technique to develop a compact carbonyl sulfide (OCS), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and water vapor (H2O) analyzer. This sensor will provide rapid (10 Hz), real-time, accurate measurements of these important trace gases with minimal calibration. The SBIR instrument will be capable of both terrestrial and airborne deployment to provide data in the troposphere, tropopause, and stratosphere. The resulting system will allow NASA researchers to acquire data that complements satellite observations made from missions in the Earth Observing System. The data will help elucidate stratospheric aerosol loading and terrestrial CO2 fluxes to improve climate models. Phase I, LGR demonstrated technical feasibility by fabricating an Off-Axis ICOS system for OCS, CO2, CO, and H2O quantification in ambient air. The prototype was highly precise (OCS, CO2, CO, and H2O to better than ±4 ppt, ±0.2 ppm, ±0.31 ppb, and ±3.7 ppm respectively), linear (R2 > 0.9997) over a wide dynamic range, and fast (2-Hz response), with no appreciable cross-interference between the measured species. Subsequently, LGR deployed the Phase I prototype locally and at a DOE Ameriflux site (Sherman Island, California). Phase II, LGR will develop and deliver two autonomous OCS, CO2, CO, and H2O analyzers for terrestrial flux and airborne monitoring respectively. The first analyzer, which will measure these gases at up to 10 Hz in a variety of terrestrial ecosystems, will be tested with Professor Chris Still for long-term monitoring and Professor Dennis Baldocci for eddy-flux measurements. The second instrument will be packaged for deployment aboard a select NASA aircraft, and include provisions for ambient temperature, humidity, and pressure fluctuatons. The flight sensor will be tested using a modified Mooney TLS with Dr. Stephen Conley and then deployed aboard a NASA aircraft.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 685.77K | Year: 2013

Los Gatos Research (LGR) proposes to employ Off-Axis ICOS to develop triple-isotope water analyzers for lunar and other extraplanetary exploration. This instrument will provide highly accurate quantification of dD, d18O, and d17O to better than ± 0.3 0/00, ± 0.1 0/00, and ± 0.15 0/00 respectively with minimal calibration or consumable standards. Moreover, due to the inherent benefits of Off-Axis ICOS, the analyzer will be selective, robust, and economical. In addition to being a strong candidate for extraplanetary exploration, the instrument will be deployed for field testing and research by scientists in NASA's Space Science and Astrobiology Division.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.91K | Year: 2012

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from contaminated groundwater plumes represent a significant health risk at industrial sites throughout the nation and a specific need exists for VOC monitoring at Superfund sites. Accurate, real-time monitoring of toxic VOCs on site is critical to evaluating the success of remediation efforts, assessing human health risks, and developing robust exposure models that properly account for confounding factors such as temporalexposure variation and population-specific pharmacokinetics. Unfortunately, simple, rapid, and accurate VOC monitoring is an ongoing challenge, and available technology is costly, labor intensive, slow, and unable to characterize reactive gases (e.g. acrolein, ozone, etc.). In this Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project, Los Gatos Research (LGR) will develop an autonomous instrument for the real-time monitoring of sub-parts per billion (ppb) levels of VOCs in ambient air without requiring extensive consumables. LGR's VOC detector will significantly improve data quality at Superfund sites by allowing for more rapid and frequent measurements without labor-intensive collection and transport of sample traps, while remaining cost competitive with alternative technologies. The VOC analyzer will use LGR's mid infrared (MIR) incoherent cavity ringdown spectroscopy (iCRDS) technology, which utilizes a broadly tunable external cavity quantum cascade lasers (8.3 - 12.5 5m) and chemometric fitting algorithm todirectly measure and analyze optical absorption due to multiple VOCs in ambient air. During Phase I of this project, LGR will refine an existing MIR iCRDS analyzer to include a larger wavelength range and improved optics. We will verify the instrument's ability to accurately identify and quantify VOCs in a variety of ambient air compositions, including an analysis of VOC-to-VOC measurement crosstalk. Additionally, LGR will deploy the prototype at a Superfund site in Mountain View, California to record, analyze, and report VOC concentrations in ambient air. At the conclusion of the project, LGR will have demonstrated the use of MIR iCRDS for the detection of VOCs at Superfund sites as a superior method of characterizing the risks to human health from toxic vapor intrusion. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The contamination of groundwater by industrial pollutants poses a significant risk to the health of individuals living and working above tainted sites. Measuring the concentration of pollutants that reach indoor air (worksites, offices and homes) is a critical first step to understanding and ultimately minimizing the human health hazards of contaminated ground water (especially at Superfund sites). Los Gatos Research's proposed instrument for measuring volatile organic pollutants will greatly improve on existing monitoring technology by increasing the data rate to characterize transient exposure, accurately measuring reactive species, and eliminating labor costs associated with sample collection.

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