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Spire to Research THz Glucose Monitor
Aug 2004
BEDFORD, Mass., Aug. 19 -- Spire Corp. announced today it has been awarded a $99,677 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contract from the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, under the Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology SBIR Program, to research development of a noninvasive blood-glucose monitor. Successful completion of Phase I can lead to a Phase II contract of as much as $750,000, Spire said.

Spire's quantum cascade laser device consists of hundreds of nanometer-thick gallium arsenide-based layers. Terahertz (THz) radiation has wavelengths that are longer than visible and infrared, but shorter than microwaves, and may be the only radiation source that can separate glucose from other substances. Spire's terahertz quantum cascade laser instrument eliminates the need to draw blood samples by finger pricking. Spire said its painless, noninvasive method of glucose detection using terahertz radiation may encourage diabetics to monitor their blood sugar levels more frequently.

During Phase I, Spire will synthesize a number of phantom samples containing various glucose concentrations, as well as samples containing potentially competing species such as sucrose and fructose, and measure their optical characteristics with terahertz radiation. The terahertz measurements will be carried out with the assistance of Tatiana Globus, research associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia, at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. Terahertz devices will be incorporated into a demonstration glucose monitoring instrument during Phase II of the project.

Roger Little, president and CEO of Spire Corp., said, "Noninvasive glucose monitoring is a huge market opportunity which we do not intend to miss. This award is a significant step forward for our Biophotonics Lifesciences group and also for Spire's Bandwidth Semiconductor foundry, which will nano-engineer our terahertz semiconductor lasers at the atomic level using their proprietary technology."

Spire provides products and services to the biomedical, solar energy, telecommunications and defense industries.

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quantum cascade laser
A Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) is a type of semiconductor laser that emits light in the mid- to far-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Quantum cascade lasers offer many benefits: They are tunable across the mid-infrared spectrum from 5.5 to 11.0 µm (900 cm-1 to 1800 cm-1); provide a rapid response time; and provide spectral brightness that is significantly brighter than even a synchrotron source. Quantum cascade lasers comprise alternating layers of semiconductor...
terahertz radiation
Electromagnetic radiation with frequencies between 300 GHz and 10 THz, and existing between regions of the electromagnetic spectrum that are typically classified as the far-infrared and microwave regions. Because terahertz waves have the ability to penetrate some solid materials, they have the potential for applications in medicine and surveillance.
Basic Scienceblood-glucose monitorCommunicationsdefenseenergyglucose detectionNews & Featuresquantum cascade laserSBIRsemiconductor lasersSPIREterahertz quantum cascade laserterahertz radiationlasers

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