#97-89
Mailed 8/21/97

 

BNL WINS R&D 100 AWARD FOR A NOVEL DETECTOR: THE "FLUORESCENCE OMNILYZER"

 

Upton, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has won a 1997 R&D 100 Award jointly with Quantar Technology, Inc., for a novel device called a Fluorescence Omnilyzer, which detects visible, ultraviolet and near-infrared light. This capability is important for performing various fluorescence research techniques, which are widely used in many scientific fields, including biochemistry, structural biology and solid-state physics.

R&D 100 Awards are given annually by R&D Magazine to the top 100 technological achievements of the year. Typically, these are innovations that transform basic science into useful products. The awards will be presented at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry on September 25.

The scientists who developed the Omnilyzer were led by John Sutherland, a senior biophysicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and included Michael Mellon, president of Quantar Technology, Santa Cruz, California; Lisa A. Kelly, a Department of Energy distinguished postdoctoral fellow who is currently an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Maryland Baltimore County; Krzysztof Polewski, a visiting professor from the Agricultural University of Poznan, Poland; and John Trunk, technical research associate, and Denise Moneteleone, programmer/analyst, both from Brookhaven Lab.

In 1987, Dr. Sutherland's group won another R&D 100 Award for a device called IMAGESystem, which records the fluorescence of DNA and other biomolecules that have been separated by gel electrophoresis, a standard research method. This type of imaging system has become widely used in molecular biology.

Fluorescence is light that is emitted by a material immediately after excitation by light of a higher energy. The Fluorescence Omnilyzer uses a pulsing excitation source of light, such as a laser or synchrotron. Scientists gain information about materials by studying the color, time delay and polarization of the fluorescence, and such methods have numerous applications in biology, chemistry and physics.

The Omnilyzer improves upon existing detectors because it allows researchers to obtain simultaneously all of the important information in a fluorescence emission spectrum: the distribution of colors and the time course of the fluorescence and polarization for each color. Gathering all of this information simultaneously is faster than obtaining it with conventional fluorescence instruments and crucial when the fluorescence is weak or the sample can be damaged by the exciting light.

Quantar Technology produces a key component of the Omnilyzer, and the company made special modifications to accommodate the design of the Brookhaven scientists. A second Omnilyzer system is being installed at a synchrotron light source in Heife, China.

At Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source, the Omnilyzer is used in studies of proteins, DNA and other biological samples, in chemical research, and in the characterization of defects in semiconductors. Potential uses of the new detector include in vivo biomedical research, clinical diagnosis, and atmospheric research and monitoring.

Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit research management organization, operates the Laboratory under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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NOTE TO LOCAL EDITORS:

John Sutherland is a resident of Wading River, New York.

Denise Monteleone lives in Holbrook, New York.

John Trunk resides in Shoreham, New York.