The objective of this task is to study and evaluate potential applications of micro-scale fluidic technologies to a wide variety of environmental problems of interest to the NASA AEMC program.
In particular, we are exploring instrument design strategies for monitoring water quality on the shuttle/space station and for assessing bacterial contamination levels. During FY00, this task developed two novel instrument designs for AEMC applications based on micro-scale fluid handling strategies. The first instrument design is for a miniature lipopolysaccharide detector which can be used for detecting live, dead, and non- culturable gram negative bacterial cells with detection limits on the order of 1 cell per milliliter of sample. We also developed a preliminary design for a miniature ion chromatograph (IC) suitable for use on the shuttle/space station using a novel separation column geometry. This geometry provides the smallest footprint of any known chromatography column and can be integrated with a variety of microfluidic components. We fabricated a prototype IC column in quartz glass and submitted a task plan to the AEMC program to develop a breadboard IC over a three year period at JPL. The micro-fluidic technologies described above have a wide range of potential uses on Earth including environmental monitoring, toxic waste monitoring, and a range of medical applications.