LMT is proud to have been awarded another NASA SBIR Phase 1 contract, this time for designing and building a Fluorescence Lifetime Excitation Emission Spectrometer (FLEXEMS) instrument, a novel device for the detection and identification of trace organics in-situ.
FLEXEMS is a stand-off fluorescence spectrometer that uses multiple light-emitting diodes to excite fluorescence in samples from the deep-ultraviolet through the visible and employs time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC) and steady-state photon-counting techniques to quantify the fluorescence properties of the target. The addition of fluorescence lifetime measurements distinguishes it from other compact, field-portable instruments available. The instrument will require no reagents or consumables and by simply placing the instrument on a sample of rock, soil, or ice, or other material it will be able to detect a wide range of organics (at or below the 10-100 ppb-level) including free aromatic amino acids; biomarkers including F420 (specific to methanogens), NADH, and proteins; PAHs, and porphyrins (e.g. chlorophyll). It will be designed with flight in mind so that mass, volume, and power-usage will be minimized as much as possible. The system will be compact and rugged, thus suitable for future missions and ongoing field and laboratory studies.