Final Report: Polymer-Based Competitive Flow Sensor Detects Contaminants in the Field

EPA Contract Number: 68D99031
Title: Polymer-Based Competitive Flow Sensor Detects Contaminants in the Field
Investigators: Coolbaugh, M. Todd
Small Business: American Research Corporation of Virginia
EPA Contact:
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through March 1, 2000
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


A rugged, sensitive, lightweight instrument capable of performing field assays of contaminants is being developed under the auspices of an Environmental Protection Agency Small Business Innovation and Research contract. The program will develop a competitive displacement assay system based on molecularly imprinted polymers, MIP, with diode laser excited detection for soil and water analysis. The innovation of this work is the utilization of MIPs to provide analyte selectivity and near-infrared fluorescence as a sensitive means of detection.

Immunological methods of analysis, such as enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), have been adapted to contaminants such as herbicides and pesticides and have been available for over a decade. The well-documented advantages of these methods, including high sensitivities and selectivities and fairly low cost per analysis, are offset in part by a number of disadvantages. Antibodies to many contaminants are not widely available and development of new antibodies is a slow and laborious process. ARCOVA is working on what is best described as a radical product innovation. It is the next generation for immunoassays, but it also is much more. The performance of molecularly imprinted polymers and the way they are manufactured should open up entirely new markets for affinity-based sensing.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

A fluorescence instrument suitable for hand-held analysis was found to be capable of detecting DiIC(5) dye concentrations of 10-11 M in ethanol was developed in the Phase I program. The program demonstrated that MIP selective for atrazine and 2,4-D can be conveniently prepared from inexpensive precursor materials. A key finding in the Phase I program was the reversibility of the MIP-atrazine response in which it was shown that MIP materials, unlike antibodies, could be repeatedly regenerated without adversely affecting their binding capabilities.


The main conclusion of the Phase I feasibility study were the findings that a low cost instrument could be made for field evaluation of contaminants via use of MIP affinity materials. Additional work will be performed during the Phase II program to realize the feasibility demonstrated during Phase I.

MIP based sensing of environmental contaminants should yield.

Supplemental Keywords:

Molecularly imprinted polymers, Fluorescence detection, field analysis., Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Chemistry, Monitoring/Modeling, Engineering, Hazardous, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, monitoring, soil , assays, field portable monitoring, detect, analyzer, field monitoring, hazardous waste, moleculary imprinted polymers (MIP), soil, laser induced flouresence studies, measurement, hazardous chemicals, sensor

SBIR Phase II:

Polymer-Based Competitive Flow Sensor Detects Contaminants in the Field  | 1999 Progress Report  | Final Report