Ball Assisted Device for Analytical Surface Sampling

UT-Battelle, LLC, acting under its Prime Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the management and operation of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is seeking a commercialization partner for an invention called PenDoc, a mass spectrometry device that will quickly provide analysis of chemicals in a doctor’s office or an airport security line.

This Oak Ridge National Laboratory invention is an improvement over other liquid microjunction surface sampling probe (LMJ-SSP) systems used in mass spectrometry.  This new technology has the ability to analyze materials from adsorbant surfaces, providing a solution through the sampling end of the probe that incorporates a ball assist device. The inventive ball assisted device for analytical surface sampling can be used to transfer material from the adsorbant surface to the ball and into a solvent stream. The ball end alleviates issues with solvent leaking to environment and allows sampling wettable surfaces. This optimizes as well as simplifies sampling for the mass spec consumer market.

The tethered probe can be used in any orientation without fear of solvent loss wherein the cleaning and washing is inherent in the operation of the probe. Optimization and ruggedizing of the sampling pen has been perfected. A real-time data analysis software package has also been developed for use with the device. Prototypes of the technology have been demonstrated with the real-time data processing and reporting software wherein experiments of pen-ink and vegetable oil matching experiments demonstrate real life examples.

PenDoc is proclaimed by the inventors for moving mass spectrometry from the research laboratory to customer end-users. Applications for the technology should reside in drug research, operating rooms, clinics, national security and forensics, as well as food safety and environmental monitoring.

This technology was originally developed using federal funds and selected for further development under the laboratory’s Technology Innovation Program (TIP). The ORNL TIP supports technology development using royalties from existing technology licenses to accelerate the market readiness of high potential technologies available for license.  When a technology enters the ORNL TIP process, it is initially made unavailable for licensing in order to provide the R&D team with time to improve its marketability and to give prospective licensees time to evaluate its potential.  When the technology has matured, typically 6-9 months after project start, ORNL issues a call for license applications.  This call is announced via email and posted on

Interested licensees then have 60 days to submit a licensing application.  If more than one prospective partner seeks an exclusive license in the same field of use, the licensing applications are scored to objectively identify the prospective licensee most capable of commercializing the technology. Additional information is posted at the web site Solicitation Number ORNL-TT-2016-05. A response date of Oct. 29, 2016 is required for your application to be considered.

License applications will be evaluated based on prospective partners’ ability and commitment to successfully commercialize the technology. If a license is executed, the ORNL researchers developing the technology will be eligible to compete for additional TIP funding to further advance the technology.

Please contact Eugene Cochran, Sr. Commercialization Manager, Technology Commercialization, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 865.576.2830,  with any questions and/or to obtain a license application for this opportunity.

Intellectual Property

Technology Summaries

  • Fact Sheet
  • Technical Information - To Be Published