Flight Testing of a Microfluidic Biochemical Analysis Lab-on-a-Chip

PI: Richard Mathies, Anna Butterworth (Co-I), University of California - Berkeley

Flight Testing of a Microfluidic Biochemical Analysis Lab-on-a-Chipwill assess the ability of a programmable microfluidic analyzer to facilitate chemical and biochemical fluid processes autonomously in microgravity. This technology couldenable biosignature detection and clinical assays in space. Three parabolic flights will test the robustness of the system’s ability to perform clinical assays that could be crucial for human health in space.The lab-on-a-chipcould also be used for sample analysis, especially ininvestigations for signs of waterand other life.

Technology Areas (?)
  • NA
Problem Statement

Monitoring astronaut health in space and making appropriate interventions is crucial for long-duration human space exploration. Earth-based clinical analysis typically involves large labs and equipment not conducive to flight. There is, therefore, a need for the development of autonomous, miniaturized biochemical analyzers that are suitable for space flight. Such an analyzer could also be used for environmental testing.

Technology Maturation

Thisdemonstration willadvance the technology’s environmental testingcapabilities andreduce the risk of using the device for analysis on icy moons.Itwill alsoestablish the feasibility of developingmicrofluidic systems for clinical health monitoring in space. Specifically, parabolic flight tests will first assess the device’s basic microfluidic functions. A second round of flights will perform more complex chemical and biochemical assays. The systemis expected to advance to TRL 6.

Future Customers

Planned for infusion in two maturing instruments:
- Enceladus organic analyzer (NASA’s Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration)
- Microfluidic organic analyzer for biosignatures (NASA’s Instrument Concepts for Europa Exploration)

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    TechFlights20 (Sep 2020)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 0 Parabolic

Development Team

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