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Cost-Effective Printed Microfluidic Devices for Rapid Screening of Narcotics at the Point of Interdiction

Award Information

Award #
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Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $50,000)

As submitted by the applicant: The war on drugs initiated during the Reagan administration continues to be a national crisis in the US. An increasing rate of drug abuse has motivated the development of new or combinations of drugs prepared in private laboratories. To counter the abuse of drugs by acquiring stringent legislation, ultimately, the final outcome of these cases is placed on the reliable identification of controlled substances. This pressure placed on laboratories to analyze field samples is not alleviated by the current field identification methods for illicit drug detection. Current field identification methods rely solely on a subjective interpretation of readout (color change) using drug-specific colorimetric reactions. The human factor is not insignificant in a variety of issues, from poor training to colorblindness and varied chemical response due to improper storage and volume of sample input. These common complications put an increased burden on the local and state laboratories, negatively affecting the turn around time for processing field samples. With the initiative to intensify regulation in a serious effort to decrease the societal impact from drug abuse, an efficient field detection method is necessary for detecting controlled substances. We plan to address this problem with a microfluidic system that accepts single-use, disposable microchips fabricated by laser print lithography, with reagents embedded by a complimentary ‘reagent printing process’, for <$1 and a modified Sony Discman® to drive fluid flow and chemical reaction with centrifugal force. An integrated Android cellphone functions as the colorimetric detector with a home-built embedded application interpreting the average pixel color density and associating it with a drug or drug class. The final prototype incorporating the developed microdevice, instrumentation, and cell phone for image capture and processing will be optimized by detecting cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, heroin, codeine, ecstasy, and marijuana. The final TRL4/5 prototype system will be tested at: the Defense Forensic Science Center (crime scene investigators), the University West Virginia (Dr. Suzanne Bell), the Virginia Dept. of Forensic Science (VDFS) and Virginia State Trooper (Al Worsham). For an enhanced system to be a major improvement, it must be fully automated to reduce subjectivity, inexpensive, handheld, capable of rapid screening and parallel processing, and include an on-board optical detector. A rotation-driven microfluidic device innovatively incorporates all criteria at a level that no new promising technology has been able to do. This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 15, 2015