The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., has signed an agreement with Link Plus Corporation, of Columbia, Md., granting it worldwide, exclusive rights to several of APL's Molecularly Imprinted Polymer (MIP) technologies.
The APL-developed MIP applications involve sensors that use specific chemical reactions to detect compounds with more sensitivity and selectivity than today's leading detectors. Under the licensing agreement, Link Plus can use these tools to create products to monitor water and air samples for toxins, chemical agents, biological agents, pesticides, poisons and chemical compounds.
"This agreement allows us to extend APL-developed technology in a way that benefits the public, fosters economic development, particularly here in Maryland and HowardCounty, and supports JohnsHopkinsUniversity," says Randall Slagle, an APL technology manager instrumental in negotiating this agreement.
Molecular imprinting is a technique for preparing synthetic polymers with recognition sites that are specific to a target molecule. In the same way that a key must "match" a lock in order to work, the shapes, sizes and functions of these artificially generated recognition sites are matched to the target molecule and capable of rebinding them in preference to other closely related structures.
Similar imprints are made by our immune systems; however, MIPs are more robust, stable and resistant to a wide range of humidity, temperature and acidity and alkalinity factors than their biological counterparts. Additionally, the newest MIPs are inexpensive and safe to produce and can be sprayed, printed or spin-coated onto commercial devices.
Work with these synthetic compounds began in the 1950s and focused on silica gels. In the early 1990s, APL began exploring methods to incorporate MIPs into sensors to meet the requests and requirements of sponsors. Among the many sensors explored were those to detect narcotics, iron, copper, explosives, uranium, chloride, phosphates and proteins.
Homeland Security and International Applications
Link Plus intends to integrate the MIPs technology with its Advanced Wireless Communications System and the company's new ZPlus™ intelligent communications software. "The combination of this powerful sensor technology, along with the wireless mesh network capability of ZPlus™, gives Link Plus a unique product for the broader security market, as well as other industrial monitoring and commercial applications," says Bob Jones, Link Plus chairman and chief executive officer.
In conjunction with earlier licensed APL technology, Jones says Link Plus hopes to leverage this technology portfolio to form relationships with government agencies and private companies focused on homeland security. The company continues to develop products that will incorporate the MIPs sensors for homeland security and international applications, including shipping pallets and containers, airplanes, trains, buses and subway stations.
"APL's MIPs technologies hold tremendous potential for commercial applications, and are an important complement to our current products," Jones says. "Our latest projects using the Lab's technology promises to meet important needs of society to detect terrorist threats, and we hope it leads to additional collaborative efforts with APL."