Highly sensitive electronic biosniffers can diagnose diseases by precisely detecting biomarkers in exhaled breath.
Professor Il-Doo Kim in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) is developing ultrasensitive and highly selective gas sensors to diagnose diseases by exhaled breath analysis. Professor Kim has led the development of semiconductor metal oxide-based nanofiber sensor arrays, which are optimized for pattern recognition of breath prints.
Human breath contains a number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Accurate detection of specific VOCs in exhaled breath can provide essential information for the early diagnosis of diseases. For example, acetone, H2S, ammonia, and toluene can be used to evaluate diabetes, halitosis, kidney malfunction, and lung cancer, respectively, where the diagnosis of these diseases can be achieved by analyzing the concentration of VOCs in exhaled breath, originating from the molecular exchange between lung tissue and blood. Variations in the concentration of the exhaled VOCs that may serve as biomarkers for specific diseases can distinguish healthy people from those who are sick.