pHinding SolutIONS aims to improve laboratory accuracy

Nothing is as highly valued in laboratory settings as accurate and precise measurements.

With a new product, Nick Jones’s company pHinding SolutIONS aims to improve accuracy and efficiency when it comes to measuring the concentrations of aqueous solutions. What makes the patent-pending Intellisensor unique is the combination of a magnetic stir bar and an ion selective electrode.

Jones came up with the idea while in a chemistry lab at Madison Area Technical College. After a lot of research, and not being able to find a similar product already in existence, he began working on the Intellisensor. Jones attributes much of his success to the people and resources available at Sector67, a space often used for prototyping in the Madison area.

Magnetic stir bars are often used in lab and industrial settings to ensure two or more solutions can be entirely mixed together to form one homogenous solution. Ion selective electrodes are often combined with the magnetic stir bars to “accurately quantify concentrations of these solutions.”

The combination of these two technologies can simplify lab procedures, as well as increase efficiency in data collection. Instead of using large devices that require an outlet for traditional measurement, the Intellisensor is combined with wireless communication modules to allow for real-time data collection and instant computer analysis.

Traditional data collection involves manually recording findings on paper, which, are then transcribed into programs such as Microsoft Excel for further interpretation. This process is eliminated with the Intellisensor. Jones intends to partner the device with computers or electronic lab notebooks to not only streamline the process of data collection, but also to reduce human error made in reporting.

While the initial target market is seen as academia, the Intellisensor can also be used in research laboratories, food and beverage companies, industrial chemicals and pharmaceutical companies.

Jones said the goal of the company is to make 10 more prototypes and distribute them in labs on UW campuses as well as in labs at various pharmaceutical companies in the area. While Jones has not encountered any regulatory barriers with the FDA, he does anticipate some in the future.

The Intellisensor will be priced in the $300 to $400 range. According to Jones, “the price is well within industry standards… the goal is to balance the industry needs and wants with the cost.” The sensors currently measure the pH (whether a solution is acidic or basic) two places after the decimal point, which is another industry standard. To be more precise, the cost goes up. According to Jones, sensors that are currently sold separately from the stir bars can range anywhere from $50 to around $3,000, depending on the quality.

pHinding SolutIONS is seeking $1.2 million to gain traction in the production of the Intellisensors. There are three areas the money would be distributed across: manufacturing Custom ISEs and PCBs for the final product, hiring full- and part-time employees for sales, marketing, and product development teams, and to establish a dedicated company work space.

Jones said he is unsure of the company’s future. He has spoken with companies that might buy the product and idea off of him, but for now his intentions are to fully develop the Intellisensor and potentially turn pHinding SolutIONS into a company with more products.

— By Elyse Bergeron, for . Bergeron is a senior in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.