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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 6, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 24
Start-up to Use APL Technology to Boost Safety of Drinking Water

By Paulette Campbell
Applied Physics Laboratory

The Applied Physics Laboratory has signed an agreement with MIP-Solutions, a start-up company headquartered in Las Vegas, granting it exclusive rights to the Lab's portfolio of molecularly imprinted polymer technologies, a class of synthetic polymers that may be tailored to selectively detect a particular substance.

APL and MIPSolutions will soon begin developing the first of many applications related to the safety of drinking water. MIPSolutions also has secured the exclusive rights to the technology as it relates to waste water treatment and water-based mining operations using filtration, treatment, reclamation and extraction processes.

The licensed technology includes APL's approach to molecular imprinting, a technique for preparing synthetic polymers with recognition sites specific to a target molecule. Similar to how a key must be complementary to a lock in order to work, the shapes, sizes and functionalities of these artificially generated recognition sites are complementary to the target molecule and are capable of rebinding target molecules in preference to other closely related structures.

Similar complexes are made by the human immune system; however, MIPs are more robust, stable and resistant to a wide range of pH, humidity and temperature fluctuations than their biological counterparts. Additionally, the newest versions of these materials are less expensive and safer to produce, and they can be physically and chemically manipulated to meet and exceed the demands of the current market.

Work with these synthetic compounds began in the 1950s and focused on silica gels. In the early 1990s, APL began exploring methods to incorporate MIPs into filters and sensors to meet the requirements of different sponsors. APL was able to demonstrate that their cutting-edge filters were able to selectively and completely remove predetermined chemicals and ions, outperforming existing techniques and devices.


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