MEMS Biosensor for In Situ Drinking Water Analysis

EPA Contract Number: 68D01063
Title: MEMS Biosensor for In Situ Drinking Water Analysis
Investigators: Salazar, Noe
Small Business: JCP Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 2001 through September 1, 2003
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2001) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The occurrence of causative agents such as Cryptosporidium parvum and other pathogens in water supplies presents a critical issue. Transmitted through water and animals, these organisms provide a reservoir of infection, which results in the excretion of the environmentally stable cysts or oocysts that are impervious to inactivation by many drinking water disinfectants. Cryptosporidium infections are particularly problematic for immuno-compromised individuals because drug therapy to control or eliminate this organism from a human host is not yet available. The method currently used for detection of these pathogenic microorganisms at the water source is not only laborious and time consuming, but often inefficient in accurately recovering and identifying waterborne pathogens. Various alternative technologies have been investigated; however, none to date have been able to provide the possibility of rapid, sensitive, and low-cost field testing.

The use of nucleic acid based detection technologies, such as DNA probes, provides the greatest potential for highly specific and sensitive detection of potentially hazardous biological agents. The most promising approach to developing the ideal biosensor is microfabrication of identification systems that mimic diagnostic schemes utilized in microbiology laboratories to detect and identify specific microbial agents. Although there is much activity in this area, most efforts suffer from the inability to properly marry microfabrication technology with the molecular biology required for sensitive and specific detection.

In completing the Phase I program, JCP Technologies has successfully: (1) developed an assay that takes advantage of DNA probe specificity with increased sensitivity through coupled branch DNA (bDNA) signal amplification, (2) designed the microfluidic system necessary to perform the assay on an integrated miniaturized instrument, and (3) demonstrated the microfabricated components for the system. In this Phase II, JCP Technologies will proceed to integrate the assay with microfluidics and MEMS components to develop a compact and portable biosensor for specific detection and identification of Cryptosporidium and other microbial pathogens in drinking water.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, Cryptosporidium, microbial pathogens, drinking water, analytical, monitoring, microfluidics, DNA probe, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, Biology, Drinking Water, Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, monitoring, cryptosporidium parvum oocysts, pathogens, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), biosensing, microbial monitoring, waterborne disease, pathogenic microbes, exposure and effects, in situ sensor, exposure, microorganisms, cryptosporidium , biosensing system, treatment, microbial risk management, DNA probe, microorganism, DNA, biosensors, biosensor

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • SBIR Phase I:

    MEMS Biosensor for In Situ Drinking Water Analysis  | Final Report