Zebra Analytix is developing disruptive analytical solutions spanning diverse high-impact applications where rapid and portable detection is essential: diagnostics, defense, energy, environment, food safety and others. The primary platform of the technology is a miniaturized gas chromatograph (GC) with multiple detector options differentiated by proprietary cluster-column micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) innovation licensed from Virginia Tech and in-house advancement.
The Problem: As the world population grows, ensuring access to essentials such as safe food, clean water, healthy air, and smart diagnostics becomes more important. The increasing global incidence of food recalls, contaminated water, and polluted air—not to mention pandemic outbreaks—are significant cause for concern, highlighting the need for better analytical tools. During the past century, a myriad separation and detection methods have been created, such as cytometry, chromatography, electrophoresis and spectroscopy. Historically, these systems have been large and very expensive benchtop instruments with long analysis times, high per-sample costs, and requiring extensive technical expertise to operate. With the advancement of modern manufacturing techniques, miniaturization of a subset of these technologies has become feasible, with the goal of detecting a variety of analytes at or near the site of sample acquisition. The potential impact of these efforts, however, has been hampered by less than optimal performance in real-world settings.
The Solution: Zebra’s patent-pending microGC system comprises interchangeable chip-scale modules to provide on-site flexibility user-defined specific needs in a portable format. Components include micro pre-concentrators (to concentrate limited amounts of sample into detectable levels), micro-separation cluster-columns (to separate complex compound mixtures without Mass Spectrometry), and integrated sensors (to detect the sample components). Data are visualized via Bluetooth communication with a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, allowing the user to make immediate assessments of samples without having to transport or ship them, or wait days for results. Advantages such as speed, portability, low cost, high performance, and low power consumption greatly extend the list of applications for the technology.
Market Opportunity: The current global GC market is roughly $2.8 billion with an annual 6% growth rate. Due to the unique nature of the microGC product, new markets not previously approachable by traditional GC instrumentation will be addressable. Also, because of Zebra’s lower per-instrument cost, and ease-of-use, a share of the large format GC installed base may opt to deploy multiplexed microGC units to increase sample throughput or replace routine GC/MS applications with cluster column capabilities.
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