Chemistry and Biochemistry

Linford Lab Featured on BYU Radio

Posted: Jun 10, 2015

BYU chemistry professor Dr. Matthew Linford was featured in the innovation segment of BYU Radio’s show Top of Mind on June 1, 2015.  Host Julie Rose interviewed Linford, as well as Ray West of MOXTEK, Inc. and Spencer Rogers of the BYU Technology Transfer office, about a new invention from the Linford Lab being licensed for the commercial market.

The invention, a novel Solid Phase Microextraction (SPME) device, consists of an adsorbent, sponge-like coating attached to a small fiber inside a hollow needle.  This device can puncture a septum over a trapped gas sample and extract the volatile organic molecules that give the sample its odor.  The molecules contained in the sponge coating are then transferred to a gas chromatograph, which separates and identifies the different molecules.

“We have a much better mousetrap,” explained Linford on Top of Mind when asked how this invention improves on previous SPME work.  The Linford Lab’s device has a coating two microns thick, compared with a commonly used seven-microns-thick version on the market. “One of the hairs on your head is about 50 to 100 microns thick,” Linford told Rose to give her some perspective.  The thinner coating on the Linford Lab device is also more porous, and so can collect three to five times more molecules than the current model.

Of course, a lab is only as good as its students.  Anubhav Diwan and Bhupinder Singh are, in Linford’s words, “two absolutely fabulous graduate students” who have been working on this project for a year and a half. 

“All of the wonderful results that we’ve obtained have been through their labors, and their hard work, and their innovation in this area,” Linford told Rose.

From New Delhi India, both Diwan and Singh received Bachelor of Pharmacy degrees from DIPSAR (Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research). Diwan has played cricket professionally and has participated in BYU soccer intramurals. Singh loves camping, cooking, and is fluent in three languages (English, Hindi, and Punjabi).  Despite their varied interests, however, they each spend up to 70 hours a week in the lab, and their recent success is very rewarding.

“I believe there are tons of interesting applications for our product,” said Singh. “We are constantly looking for new applications where we can surpass the performance of commercial devices.”  Some applications include quality control in the food industry, environmental studies on pollution, etc. 

The licensing of the novel Solid Phase Microextraction device is currently under negotiations with MOXTEK through the BYU Tech Transfer and, with a little luck, will be on the market soon. 

Listen to the BYU radio article here.

By Jordan Wright

Photo courtesy of the Linford Lab: (L-R) Bhupinder Singh, Matthew R. Linford, and Anubhav Diwan