Q Technologies completes successful collaboration with Sniffles project

Sniffles ‘Rover 2000’ beta system showing constituent parts, integrated device and docking station.

There were several technical achievements and outcomes from the Sniffles project. A linear ion trap (LIT) mass analyser was designed, manufactured and validated in a laboratory environment for the identification of hidden people, drug simulants (Methyl benzoate, Acetic acid) and explosive simulants (2-nitrotoluene, Cyclohexanone). The analyser electrodes and housing were manufactured by 3D printing to reduce its weight (85%) and cost (70%) and a novel voltage control method (ramped pulse method) was developed to improve LIT resolution (from 4 Da mass peak width to 1 Da with a 500Da mass range). This allowed for a simplified design and lower cost ECU. The LIT, ECU and battery were integrated into a mobile carry case (400x300x170mm–16Kg) togetherwith a vacuum system containing a high performance-to-size ratio Non Evaporable Getter pump which proved more robust, operated at low power (5W) and was free of vibration compared to turbo molecular pumps. Software development supported LIT design work through simulation and overall system operation, including control of the instrument via a Wi-Fi enabled tablet. Two patent applications were submitted on a glow discharge ion source and non-evaporable getter alloys suitable for hydrogen and carbon monoxide sorption. There has also been the development of a handheld DAPCI ion source for atmospheric sampling into portable and other MS systems. As part of the exploitation plan for Sniffles, a continuation project (ChemSniff) funded under the H2020 SME instrument began in October 2015. This project will focus on reducing system weight and volume, improving reliability and taking the device to TRL7; therefore closer to commercialisation.