Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.


Export to Word (
Principal Investigator: Carpenter, Alexis Wells
Institute Receiving Award Axnano, Llc
Location Greensboro, NC
Grant Number R43ES033585
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Sep 2021 to 31 Aug 2023
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Project Summary/Abstract 1 Rising awareness of the ubiquity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) coupled with 2 growing evidence of human health hazards has led to increased PFAS testing of water sources 3 that feed drinking-water supplies. Early estimations of the PFAS treatment market are at $3.1Bn, 4 with testing representing a key revenue driver. While highly accurate, current high resolution mass 5 spectroscopy (HRMS) PFAS detection methods have high per sample costs and long turnaround 6 times. The specialized equipment is expensive and requires skilled personnel and laborious 7 sample preparation. As a result, budget-strapped stakeholders may limit the comprehensive 8 testing needed for site assessment. Long turnaround times can mean continued community 9 exposure and uncertainty of clean-up progress. AxNano is developing a low-cost, high- 10 throughput, portable PFAS-detection method. We aim to initially develop this as a screening tool 11 for environmental engineers to provide real-time data of elevated PFAS levels to inform exposures 12 and further testing needs. Long-term goals are to achieve specificity and detection limits 13 necessary for receiving EPA approval. This technology meets the specific Superfund Research 14 Program need of “nanotechnology-based sensors” to “characterize [and] monitor hazardous 15 substances at contaminated sites”. 16 The specific objectives of this Phase I SBIR program are the development of and bench-scale 17 testing of AxNano’s PFAS-targeting “smart” collector, which is a key component of our high 18 throughput PFAS detector. The long-term objectives of this multidisciplinary technology 19 development program will integrate material science, advanced spectroscopy, and data analytics. 20 The key innovation in this work is unique PFAS-targeting nanoparticles that will produce a 21 fluorescence signal upon binding PFAS. Our initial goal is ppb level detection, and ultimately ppt 22 to meet regulatory requirements. Specific tasks of this Phase I include lab-scale manufacturing of 23 a suite of surface-modified fluorescent nanoparticles and testing for PFAS-targeting and - 24 detecting abilities. Promising candidates will be down-selected according to specific criteria and 25 integrated into a pre-prototype “smart” collector, which will then be tested at bench-scale. Phase 26 I will test proof-of-concept against standard solutions of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), 27 perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and an Aqueous Fire Fighting Foam (AFFF) Ansulite. 28 Additional tasks involve preparing for prototyping and broader PFAS compound testing in realistic 29 environments in Phase II.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 25 - Superfund Basic Research (non- P42 center grants)
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Heather Henry
to Top