The Specific Aim of this Phase IIb (Phase II competitive renewal) SBIR proposal is to advance the prototypes we developed under our Phase I and II SBIR grants into commercial production. We will produce SBS-96 format radiation sterilizable electronically tagged sample vials that can be read at ultra-low temperatures. Hundreds of millions of SBS-96 vials are sold each year and each of these vials must be tracked. Today, the state of the art for sample tracking is 2D barcoded sample vials. 2D barcode sample tracking technology falls short on many fronts, resulting in sample degradation, lost samples, and thousands of lost person hours per year. This is a growing manpower drain on biobanks. Robotic systems can be used to track samples but they are usually very expensive. They also reduce the sample storage capacity of the freezers to accommodate the robotic equipment. To address this sample tracking need, we have developed an RFID based sample tracking system. For mass production, radiation sterilization of sample vials is important. We have developed prototypes of RFID tagged vials that can be sterilized using radiation, are the required size for SBS-96 format vials and operate at -196 C. We are the frst to produce such prototype vials. To accomplish our Specific Aim, we will carry out the following tasks: (a) Develop a commercial version of our prototype radiation hardened tags that operate at ultra-low temperatures, (b) Design, produce, and test a reader that can read a rack of RFID tagged SBS-96 vials, (c) Develop a commercial manufacturing method and execute pilot production runs to incorporate the RFID tags into SBS-96 format sample vials and fnally, (d) Establish quality control methods. At the end of this Phase IIb work, we will have fully functional and commercial ready RFID tagged SBS-96 vials and a reader that can read a rack of vials in a few seconds.
The number of archived biological samples is very large and ever growing. Maintaining large collections of these samples is fraught with difculties arising from inadequate labeling technologies, the inability to automatically locate the samples and a lack of robust connection between the physical sample and archiving software. We propose to develop small, sterilizable RFID tags that can be built into modern sample vials and bring the advantages of electronic tracking to help reduce human errors, save cost, allow automatic locating of samples and will minimize the need to handle frozen samples.