Inventor of the Month - May 2017

This article was posted on: May 15, 2017

Masoud Agah

Miniature Gas Chromotography system

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Masoud Agah, the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as Inventor of the Month for May 2017 for a series of inventions disclosed to Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. that make up a Miniature Gas Chromotography, or Mini-GC, system.

The most recent disclosure, “Highly Tunable Stationary Phases for Micro Gas Chromatography Using Room Temperature Ionic Liquids,” builds on other invention disclosures detailing injector, separation column, and detector technologies and system integration of the mini-GC that are protected by patent applications currently in prosecution.

The credit-card-sized gas chromatography (GC) platform can be operated by non-experts to analyze volatile compounds within seconds. This GC research, with its potential applications for wearable and portable detection devices, has drawn attention from the fields of health care, environmental monitoring, industrial, petrochemical and automotive applications, building automation, and homeland security, especially driven by global government regulations for safety.

Critical parts of the system include separators, concentrators, injector, and detector, as well as system integration of the GC-on-chip module. To avoid thermal crosstalk, the three main components (injector, separation column, and mass detector) are normally placed on separate chips. Agah’s group has combined these components onto a single chip using an innovative setup. This monolithic integration technology produces size, cost, and performance improvements when compared to other CG lab-on-chip systems. The most recent invention improves the efficiency and broadens the applicability of separation columns for the mini-GC system.

Agah’s co-inventors on the active patent applications include Shree Narayanan Sreedharan Nair and Hamza Shakeel, and Bishnu Regmi co-invented the latest disclosure.




Inventor Masoud AgahMasoud Agah received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology (SUT), Iran, and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. At UM’s NSF Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSystems, he developed MEMS-based gas chromatography columns for environmental monitoring applications. Upon joining Virginia Tech in 2005, Agah established Virginia Tech's Microelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, the VT MEMS Lab, and has focused his research on environmental and biomedical applications of MEMS, receiving the NSF CAREER Award in 2008 for his research on micro gas chromatography. He is a core member of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. Agah has formed a startup to commercialize this miniature gas sensor and is actively looking for business partners and investors.

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