Rational design of highly sensitive and selective chemical sensors using structural color
Award last edited on: 3/25/2019

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Min Hu

Company Information

DrinkSavvy Inc

211 W 2nd Street
Boston, MA 02127
   (646) 369-8010

Research Institution


Phase I

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The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project will be the development of sensor-embedded "smart" drinkware (i.e., stirrers, straws and cups) to actively alert consumers prior to consumption of a "spiked" beverage, and thus provide a proactive way to prevent drug-facilitated sexual assault. This sensor technology is based on "smart" molecularly imprinted color-changing nanomaterials that eliminate the need to run tedious sample preparation and analysis procedures using conventional laboratory instrument. The use of a colorimetric sensor as a cost-effective consumer sensor has far broader applications than just date rape drug detection, including applications where on-the-spot detection could help protect consumers from other harmful chemicals, pathogens, drugs, explosives, nerve agents, allergens, etc. In addition, this project will advance colorimetric sensing technology using structural color into a robust and rapid sensing platform for drug monitoring with high sensitivity, response time, and accuracy.This STTR Phase I project proposes to develop a platform technology based on a highly accurate, color-changing sensor that will initially be used to continuously monitor a beverage for date rape drugs, and instantaneously detect these adulterants if they are present. Drug-facilitated sexual assault has become a significant issue, but there is currently no drug-sensing drinkware available on the market. This drug sensor will be implemented using highly selective molecular imprinted polymers as target drug receptors and non-toxic color-changing nanomaterials as signaling reporters. The scope of the research includes the rational design of the color-changing nanomaterial used as a signaling reporter for the target drug binding event, the development of a highly selective molecularly imprinted polymer and its integration with reporters, and the testing of the color-changing sensor under different matrices and conditions to verify its sensitivity and specificity.

Phase II

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