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Ames award-winning technology selected as 2001's 'Most Promising'

Ames Laboratory's Absorption Detection System in Multiple Capillaries was selected as one of the "most promising" technologies for 2001 for its potential to bring about big changes in the fields of chemical and biological sciences

November 12—The Absorption Detection System in Multiple Capillaries technology, developed by Edward S. Yeung, director of Ames Laboratory's Chemical and Biological Sciences Program, was one of three technologies selected for the Editors' Choice Award from the 2001 R&D 100 Award winners.

"We looked at the R&D 100 Award-winning technologies and selected three we felt would have the most impact," said Tim Studt, editor-in-chief, R&D Magazine.

The technology, which uses multiple capillaries, makes it possible to rapidly separate samples of complex chemical or biochemical mixtures. The capillaries disperse heat very well and so can withstand an electrical charge of up to 20,000 volts, which results in fast separations. Using absorbance detection to identify the molecules means it can handle 95 percent of all known chemical and biochemical compounds and uses 1,000 times less solvent than high-performance liquid chromatography. With these features, the technology has the ability to decipher an individual's entire genetic code faster, more accurately and less expensively than conventional instrumentation.

CombiSep Inc., an Ames-based startup company Yeung helped launch, turned the technology into a commercial instrument, the MCE 2000. "The MCE 2000 will do everything standard commercial systems will do, except at 96 times higher speed," said Yeung, who is also an Iowa State University distinguished professor of chemistry. With this unparalleled detection power, it has fast-evolving applications in pharmaceutical, genetics, medical, and forensics laboratories.

In addition to the 2001 R&D 100 Award, Yeung's technology enabled CombiSep to win a highly competitive $2 million Advanced Technology Program Grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The funding is to support further work in the area of proteomics (the study of protein expression and function). CombiSep also has received two $100,000 Small Business Innovative Research grants, one from the National Science Foundation and one from the National Institutes of Health.—by Mary Jo Glanville

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