Recent Advances in MicroChemLab™ Technology at Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories began development of microfabricated gas chromatographs more than 10 years ago, starting with the original MicroChemLab™. As systems evolved, and needs and capabilities expanded, new generations of technology were developed and implemented. One challenge of existing chemical analysis systems is high false alarm rate. High rates currently limit chemical warfare agent (CWA) detection for military applications and toxic industrial chemicals (TIC) detection for homeland security applications since large numbers of target chemicals must be separated and detected. To address this problem, a significant increase in peak capacity is required for the micro gas chromatography (GC) systems.
Sandia, in collaboration with industrial and academic partners, is developing a next-generation MicroChemLab™ system. We are evaluating a pressure-modulated GCxGC capability that significantly increases the peak capacity of the system while maintaining high-speed <10s/analysis, total system volume <20cm3, and total power consumption <3J/analysis. The technology combines high-aspect-ratio MEMS columns, a MEMS preconcentrator, either a MEMS chemiresistor or NEMS cantilever detector, and a novel hydrogen combustion heating system for rates up to 25C/s. Recent advances will be presented.
Joshua J. Whiting is a senior member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in the Micro Analytical Systems group. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 2004 from the University of Michigan where he worked in the laboratory of Richard Sacks on the development of portable gas chromatographs. Following graduation, he worked as the Systems Integrator for the Environmental Monitoring Testbed of the Wireless Integrated MicroSystems Engineering Research Center (WIMS ERC) at the University of Michigan. He is currently working on developing the next generation of the MicroChemLabTM at Sandia National Laboratories.