Nano and Micro Systems
RF-POWERED Micro-extractor and Reactor (µEX)
JPL has developed an RF-powered microreactor as part of potential in situ exploration missions to inner and outer planetary bodies for sample processing and extraction. This technology utilizes aqueous solutions subjected to 60-GHz radiation at 730 mW of input power to extract target organic compounds and molecular and inorganic ions as well as to hydrolyze complex polymeric materials. Successful identification and characterization of key target molecules rely on the sample-processing techniques utilized alongside state-of-the-art detection and analysis. µEX potentially offers a simplified alternative to the typical gold-standard extractions that often use solvents, chemicals, and conditions that can vary wildly and depend on the targeted molecules. Instead, this instrument uses a single solvent—water—that can be “tuned” under the different experimental conditions, leveraging the operating principles of the subcritical water extractor. Proof-of-concept experiments have been done examining hydrolysis reaction chemistry and extraction of several target molecules, such as amino acids.ABOVE: RF-powered micro-extractor and schematic flow chart of the micro-extraction process.