908 Devices Inc

Sci-Fi Like Tiny Tech Helps Sense & ID Thousands of Chemicals at Trace Amounts

Start-up Licenses Broad IP Portfolio for Ultra-Compact Hazardous Chemical Detectors and Chemical Analysis Tools


Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/12/2013 --908 Devices Inc. has secured exclusive license to a broad portfolio of patents that enable simple-to-operate, ultra-compact chemical detection and analysis tools. Humans have an increasing need to detect and identify chemicals in our surroundings instantly, whenever and wherever they are found; beyond conventional centralized laboratories where scientific equipment is housed. 908 Devices is making revolutionary tools that can both detect and identify a large set of chemical hazards in a battery-operated handheld that is robust enough to exceed military standards and be trusted for immediate action in the field. For research biologists and chemists, the same robust technology core enables personal analysis tools, small and simple enough for every work area.

On Sci-Fi television, in real forensic crime laboratories, and in analytical laboratories around the world, the technique of Mass Spectrometry is the well-established gold standard for food safety testing, explosives and chemical threat forensics, biotechnology research, drugs-of-abuse testing and clinical diagnostics. This broad utility comes both from Mass Spec’s high selectivity (it is able to differentiate millions of different chemicals) and from its extreme sensitivity (it is able to measure quantities as low as 1 part in a billion or better). Unlike television, until now, complexity, large size, and high costs restricted these capabilities to highly skilled scientists in laboratory environments. Samples, if they could be collected and moved, had to be transported to the instruments.

The licensed patent portfolio results from over $17.5M of government research funding through the agencies of DARPA, DOE and DTRA. Prof. J. Michael Ramsey and collaborators developed the technology, initially at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and later at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The portfolio comprehensively covers key aspects and sub-systems required to enable micro-scale mass spectrometry tools including ionization, ion traps and detection schemes. Prof. Ramsey is both the Goldby Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Science Founder of 908 Devices. He was also the Science Founder of Caliper Life Sciences (NASDAQ: CALP), acquired by PerkinElmer (NYSE: PKI) in 2011 for $600M.

“This agreement enables us to transform how chemical analysis is done today by taking the most widely accepted and broadly capable analytical technique of mass spectrometry and making it an elegantly simple tool. These tools are so tiny, it can be used at the point-of-need by the person who has the questions and needs an answer.” said Dr. Kevin J. Knopp, CEO and a founder of 908 Devices. “By doing this we will be helping our customers reduce logistics burdens, reduce delay, and enable accelerated response, action, and science,” said Dr. Knopp.

“It is extremely gratifying to see the past 10-years of research work coming into commercial implementation,” said Prof. J. Michael Ramsey. “908 Devices has assembled a remarkable team of industry and technology experts with a proven track record of bringing previously complex, laboratory technologies to the field.”

“Innovation in Mass Spectrometry and separation techniques at ORNL dates back to the Manhattan Project,” said ORNL Director Thom Mason. “We are pleased to celebrate the serial entrepreneurship in Professor Ramsey’s work, having first successfully licensed micro-fluidic separation technology to Caliper Technologies and now, with this agreement, for micro-Mass Spectrometry with 908 Devices.”

About 908 Devices
908 Devices is bringing the powerful capabilities of Mass Spectrometry out of the confines of centralized laboratories. 908 Devices’ ultra-compact chemical tools platform will impact a range of industries including safety and security, food science, biotechnology and clinical diagnostics. Founded in 2012, by a proven team of industry and technology experts, 908 Devices is based in Boston’s Innovation District.

About Oak Ridge National Laboratory
ORNL is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. ORNL's mission is to deliver scientific discoveries and technical breakthroughs that will accelerate the development and deployment of solutions in clean energy and global security, and in doing so create economic opportunity for the nation.