Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Breathalyzers' may be useful for medical diagnostics

Date:
December 29, 2010
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Researchers have overcome a fundamental obstacle in developing breath-analysis technology to rapidly diagnose patients by detecting chemical compounds called "biomarkers" in a person's respiration in real time.

This image shows a new type of sensor for an advanced breath-analysis technology that rapidly diagnoses patients by detecting "biomarkers" in a person's respiration in real time. Researchers used a template made of micron-size polymer particles and coated them with much smaller metal oxide nanoparticles. Using nanoparticle-coated microparticles instead of a flat surface allows researchers to increase the porosity of the sensor films, increasing the "active sensing surface area" to improve sensitivity.
Credit: Purdue University and NIST

Researchers have overcome a fundamental obstacle in developing breath-analysis technology to rapidly diagnose patients by detecting chemical compounds called "biomarkers" in a person's respiration in real time.

The researchers demonstrated their approach is capable of rapidly detecting biomarkers in the parts per billion to parts per million range, at least 100 times better than previous breath-analysis technologies, said Carlos Martinez, an assistant professor of materials engineering at Purdue who is working with researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"People have been working in this area for about 30 years but have not been able to detect low enough concentrations in real time," he said. "We solved that problem with the materials we developed, and we are now focusing on how to be very specific, how to distinguish particular biomarkers."

The technology works by detecting changes in electrical resistance or conductance as gases pass over sensors built on top of "microhotplates," tiny heating devices on electronic chips. Detecting biomarkers provides a record of a patient's health profile, indicating the possible presence of cancer and other diseases.

"We are talking about creating an inexpensive, rapid way of collecting diagnostic information about a patient," Martinez said. "It might say, 'there is a certain percentage that you are metabolizing a specific compound indicative of this type of cancer,' and then additional, more complex tests could be conducted to confirm the diagnosis."

The researchers used the technology to detect acetone, a biomarker for diabetes, with a sensitivity in the parts per billion range in a gas mimicking a person's breath.

Findings were detailed in a research paper that appeared earlier this year in the IEEE Sensors Journal, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' IEEE Sensors Council. The paper was co-authored by Martinez and NIST researchers Steve Semancik, lead author Kurt D. Benkstein, Baranidharan Raman and Christopher B. Montgomery.

The researchers used a template made of micron-size polymer particles and coated them with far smaller metal oxide nanoparticles. Using nanoparticle-coated microparticles instead of a flat surface allows researchers to increase the porosity of the sensor films, increasing the "active sensing surface area" to improve sensitivity.

A droplet of the nanoparticle-coated polymer microparticles was deposited on each microhotplate, which are about 100 microns square and contain electrodes shaped like meshing fingers. The droplet dries and then the electrodes are heated up, burning off the polymer and leaving a porous metal-oxide film, creating a sensor.

"It's very porous and very sensitive," Martinez said. "We showed that this can work in real time, using a simulated breath into the device."

Gases passing over the device permeate the film and change its electrical properties depending on the particular biomarkers contained in the gas.

Such breathalyzers are likely a decade or longer away from being realized, in part because precise standards have not yet been developed to manufacture devices based on the approach, Martinez said.

"However, the fact that we were able to do this in real time is a big step in the right direction," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. The original article was written by Emil Venere. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kurt D. Benkstein, Baranidharan Raman, Christopher B. Montgomery, Carlos J. Martinez, Steve Semancik. Microsensors in Dynamic Backgrounds: Toward Real-Time Breath Monitoring. IEEE Sensors Journal, 2010; 10 (1): 137 DOI: 10.1109/JSEN.2009.2035738

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "'Breathalyzers' may be useful for medical diagnostics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101228141700.htm>.
Purdue University. (2010, December 29). 'Breathalyzers' may be useful for medical diagnostics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101228141700.htm
Purdue University. "'Breathalyzers' may be useful for medical diagnostics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101228141700.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins