Press Release

Advanced Microfluidics Technology for Space Applications

By SpaceRef Editor
January 25, 2010
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NASA’s Small Spacecraft Division to Employ Raydiance Smart Light Ultrafast Laser in Building Next-Generation Devices

Raydiance Corporation, developer of the world’s first commercial-grade ultrafast laser, today announced it has partnered with the Small Spacecraft Division in the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., to develop advanced microfluidics devices for space-based biological experiments.

Under the terms of a cooperative agreement funded by the Advanced Capabilities Division in NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate to support a Seed Fund project within NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, NASA Ames’ experts in fluidic design will employ Raydiance’s Smart LightTM ultrafast laser platform to fabricate next-generation microfluidics devices and components. These will be deployed on free-flying nanosatellites, the International Space Station, and future lunar and planetary research laboratories. Results from this work will advance capabilities for molecular and cellular diagnostics, enable rapid drug discovery and screening, and expand the understanding of the effects of the space environment on biological systems.

“This partnership brings together the powerful and versatile Smart Light ultrafast technology with the world-class microfluidics expertise of the NASA Ames’ small spacecraft group,” said Barry Schuler, Chairman and CEO of Raydiance. “The capability to athermally ablate very precise features in transparent polymers and glasses, in addition to ceramics, will enable NASA Ames to rapidly fabricate complex and integrated components on a single microfluidics card. This collaborative work will have large implications for both the research and commercial worlds.”

The work at NASA Ames is led by Dr. Antonio J. Ricco, chief technologist at the Small Satellite Division and John Hines, chief technologist in the Engineering Directorate. Tim Booth, Vice President of Project Management, is coordinating the Raydiance efforts for the project.

“We’re very excited about the additional capabilities the Raydiance system gives us to fabricate complex, multilevel microfluidic devices,” Dr. Ricco said. “We anticipate these devices will be more reliable, let us add new functionality, and be more biocompatible than some other approaches we’ve examined. We should be able to quickly execute design changes as needed to accommodate a wide range of biological and chemical space studies with this new platform.”

About Raydiance, Inc.

Raydiance is a next-generation laser company that has integrated fiber optic, computing and software technologies to create the world’s only broadly accessible, commercial-grade ultrafast laser. Ultrafast lasers create pulses of light with extremely high peak power capable of ablating virtually any material with high precision and no heat. The company is focused on providing transformative, reliable and cost-effective solutions for the medical device, energy, biosciences, consumer electronics and defense technology markets. Its management team, with more than 100 years of experience in computer and laser technologies, is led by Barry Schuler, former Chairman and CEO of AOL.

About NASA Ames Research Center

NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., enables exploration through selected development, innovative technologies, and interdisciplinary scientific discovery. NASA Ames provides leadership in astrobiology; robotic lunar exploration; technologies for NASA’s next generation space vehicles including the Orion crew exploration vehicle, Ares crew launch and heavy lift vehicles; the search for extra-solar Earth-like planets; supercomputing; intelligent/adaptive systems; advanced thermal protection; and airborne astronomy. NASA Ames develops tools for a safer, more efficient national airspace and unique partnerships benefiting NASA’s mission.

SpaceRef staff editor.