NIST/JILA Fellows Jun Ye and David Nesbitt built a breathalyzer that identifies biomarkers of disease by measuring the colors and amounts of light absorbed as a laser frequency comb passes through breath samples inside a glass tube. Credit: J. Wang/NIST
JILA scientists have boosted the sensitivity of their decade-old frequency comb breathalyzer a thousandfold and can detect additional biomarkers of disease — four now, with the potential for six more. When validated and engineered into a portable design, the comb system could offer real-time, noninvasive analysis of human breath to detect and monitor diseases. JILA is jointly operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado Boulder.
The JILA system “fingerprints” chemicals by measuring the colors and amounts of light absorbed as a laser frequency comb passes back and forth through breath samples loaded into a mirrored glass tube. Recent upgrades include a shift in the light spectrum analyzed from the near-infrared to the mid-infrared band, where more molecules absorb light, and advances in optical coatings and several other technologies to achieve detection sensitivity up to the parts-per-trillion level.
As described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, NIST/JILA Fellows Jun Ye and David Nesbitt detected and monitored four biomarkers — methanol (CH3OH), methane (CH4), water (H2O) and a form of heavy water (HDO) — in the breath of a volunteer. These are indicators of health conditions such as, in the case of methane, intestinal problems.
The researchers say it is feasible to use the same apparatus to detect six more chemicals: formaldehyde, ethane, carbonyl sulfide, ethylene, carbon disulfide and ammonia. In addition, extending the comb lasers further into the infrared should greatly expand the detection capability and enable the identification of many hundreds of trace breath chemicals.
JILA researchers demonstrated a prototype comb breathalyzer in 2008 but did not develop it further at that time. They have now refocused on it, prompted by the possibility of eventually testing for COVID-19.
“We are really quite optimistic and committed to pushing this technology to real medical applications,” Ye said.
The most widely used analytical technique in breath research is gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry, which can detect hundreds of exhaled molecules but works slowly, requiring tens of minutes. Most optical breath tests approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detect only one chemical. JILA is the only institution that has published research on comb breathalyzers, Ye said.
Breath analysis is the leading medical application for frequency combs. Combs offer a combination of broad spectral coverage, high resolution and high sensitivity, potentially detecting tens of chemicals simultaneously. Among other advantages, the comb system would not require chemical reagents and complex laboratory facilities.
Ye and Nesbitt are now working with other NIST researchers to engineer a compact version of the breathalyzer. The tube is only 55 centimeters (21.7 inches) long, but the laser comb is custom-made and somewhat bulky.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Dental health is more than just bad breath | Ask Dr. Kaiton July 28, 2022 at 9:00 am
Once your pet has periodontal disease, a costly dental procedure under general anesthesia will be needed to address the infection, but what can you do to prevent this problem?
- Patient at Hurley Medical Center diagnosed with Legionnaires' diseaseon July 28, 2022 at 6:01 am
Hurley says it is investigating the home environment of the patient and is working with the state and county health departments to find any potential health care-related exposures.
- Dentist Reveals Worst Foods for Bad Breathon July 26, 2022 at 5:51 am
Among the causes of bad breath are poor oral hygiene, gum disease or other medical issues, such as sinus conditions, gastric reflux or diabetes.
- Expert shares tips on heart disease and stroke preventionon July 26, 2022 at 5:16 am
Dr. Rony Shammas is a cardiologist at ECU Health. Shammas said there are several factors that make people more at risk of developing heart disease.
- Bad breath? These conditions might be the culpriton July 20, 2022 at 7:34 am
From diet and lifestyle to health issues, here are some reasons you might be suffering from chronic bad breath.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- 10 Nanotech Breakthroughs You Should Know About (Updated)on July 26, 2022 at 5:00 pm
The printer lays the ink onto the teeth of two gold combs to create a tightly interlaced stack of ... around 400 products presently using silver nanoparticles. Nanotech-Enabled Breathalyzer for ...
- Rishi Sunak vows to scrap hundreds of EU laws and regulations in pitch to Brexiteers as Penny Mordaunt faces scrutiny over views on trans rightson July 17, 2022 at 5:14 am
In a fresh pitch to win over Brexiteers, the former chancellor promised to appoint a Brexit minister to comb through the remaining 2,400 EU laws still on the UK's statute book. He even promised a "Big ...
- Paris expo highlights tembe art of 'Maroons' from Suriname, French Guyanaon July 17, 2022 at 3:20 am
The Maroons took these ordinary objects, the house, the paddle or the comb that they used to offer to their wife, to their mother, they added motifs and they transformed them into something beautiful.
- Beer Board Tries To Solve Mystery Of Whether Intoxicated Man In Wreck Was Employee At Doc Holiday'son July 16, 2022 at 5:00 pm
A breathalyzer and blood alcohol test were done ... The owner of the bar, Raulston Lamar Combs, told the board that the driver had been fired on Nov. 11, 2019 and had not worked for him since ...
- Beauty Bar: Dyson Airwrap Multi-styler Completeon July 11, 2022 at 11:07 am
Our second tester tried the new Airwrap on her short, curly hair. She used the brush attachment to comb through and dry her hair, noticing it dried faster than usual. She then switched to the ...