Topic Information Award/Contract Number Proposal Information Company Performance

Next Generation Vacuum Systems for Hand-held Mass Spectrometers

D12PC00210 FY10.2-H-SB010.2-002-0001-II
(FY10.2 Phase II)
Miniature, Rugged Vacuum System for Portable Mass Spectrometers

Creare LLC
P.O. Box 71
16 Great Hollow Road
Hanover, NH 03755-0071


The Department of Homeland Security, the Military, and civilian first-responders have an urgent need for sensitive detectors of harmful materials such as biological and chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and explosives. Handheld instruments must be sensitive, be able to detect a wide variety of target compounds in a matter of seconds, reliably discriminate between innocuous and harmful compounds, and be relatively inexpensive. A technology with great promise for addressing all of these requirements is miniature ion trap mass spectrometry (MIT-MS). These relatively simple devices are capable of detecting, identifying, and quantitating target compounds with great sensitivity and high levels of confidence. Mass spectrometry, nearly unique among analytical instrumental methods, combines high sensitivity with generality (i.e., applicability towards all compound classes) thus offering the high molecular information necessary for confident identification. One of the biggest factors preventing the development of truly low-cost and portable MIT-MS is the cost, size, mass, and power requirements of the high vacuum system required for its operation. Based on our highly successful Phase I project, Creare proposes to address this need by completing the development of an innovative, miniature, rugged, vacuum system during Phase II.


NBCHC060069 0512010
(FY05.1 Phase II)
Miniature, Efficient, Low-Vibration Cryocooler for Gamma Ray Detectors

Creare LLC
P.O. Box 71,
16 Great Hollow Road
Hanover, NH 03755-0071


Hand-held gamma ray spectrometers are a vital tool for detecting and identifying nuclear materials to counter the threat of radiological and nuclear terrorism. The High Purity Germanium crystals in these detectors must operate at cryogenic temperatures to achieve good energy resolution. We propose to develop an innovative, miniature cryogenic cooling system that will be ideal for hand-held detectors. High efficiency will enable long battery life, and low vibration will improve detector sensitivity. The system will be lightweight and inexpensive to produce. In Phase I, we have proven the feasibility of our approach by building and demonstrating critical components and producing a conceptual design for a prototype cryocooler. In Phase II, we will build and demonstrate a complete prototype cryocooler and integrate it with a hand-held gamma ray spectrometer. Tests of the cryocooler will demonstrate high cooling efficiency, and tests of the cooled spectrometer will demonstrate excellent detector performance. Homeland security applications include nuclear materials interdiction, safeguards inspection, and emergency response. The cooler can also be used to cool portable x-ray detectors and infrared sensors used in military targeting and guidance systems. The commercial nuclear industry can use the cooler/detector for in-situ waste assay measurements, nuclear reactor maintenance, and health physics.