Project Details


The team has developed a new method for ultrasensitive radiocarbon detection. The laser-based technology allows the measurement of trace amounts, on the order of one part per one trillion, of radioactive label in organic compounds. The proposed analyzer has the potential to change the way the pharmaceutical industry conducts metabolic and toxicity studies with radio-labeled carbon for its drug discovery and development programs long before human clinical trials. A commercialized version of this analyzer technology would enable scientists to conduct ultrasensitive measurements more quickly on-site and with small samples and thus less radioactivity.Existing Accelerator Mass Spectrometer technology effectively counts atoms as they are accelerated across a large equipment platform that takes up a large room and is expensive to maintain. It is complex and expensive; only a few such systems exist for the purposes of Biological Radiocarbon studies, and samples must be outsourced to such facilities with long turnaround times. Existing Liquid Scintillation Counter (LSC) technology must use samples 3-4 orders of magnitude larger with much higher radiation because the beta-decay counting technique lacks the sensitivity for many metabolic and toxicity studies. The proposed laser based technology effectively tickles the CO2 molecules with a laser millions of times per second in an electrical discharge and obtains an electronic response (known as the Optogalvanic Effect). The proposed technology has the potential to reduce the costs associated with new drug development by enabling pharmacokinetic studies to be initiated in humans sooner than currently possible and will thus accelerate the time to approval and market.
Effective start/end date7/1/1412/31/14


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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