Technology advancements will soon allow smart phones or tablet PCs to function as portable real time breath testers that can detect serious disease such as diabetes or lung cancer.
A metal oxide nanofiber chemiresistive gas sensor can be plugged into smart devices and simply breathed into. The extremely sensitive breath sensor uses SnO2 fibers put together from wrinkled thin SnO2 nanotubules, says Il-Doo Kim, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Department at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and his research team in their paper, "Thin-Wall Assembled SnO2 Fibers Functionalized by Catalytic Pt Nanoparticles and their Superior Exhaled Breath Sensing Properties for the Diagnosis of Diabetes."
There are several ways to diagnosis a disease state such as diabetes. A breath test used to analyze the amount of acetone in the breath is just one method used to detect the onset of diabetes. Similarly, testing for toluene can sense lung cancer, while ammonia can be used to detect kidney malfunction. These breath tests are preferred techniques to detect disease states as they are less invasive, are convenient and can be performed easily.
Previously machinery used to perform these breath tests was bulky and expensive but the metal oxide based chemiresistive gas sensors allows for portability. Il-Doo Kim says, "From our research, we obtained the results that Pt-coated SnO2 fibers are able to identify promptly and accurately acetone or toluene even at very low concentration, less than 100 parts per billion (ppb)."
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Yoon, Lan. Nanofiber sensor detects diabetes or lung cancer faster and easier. 11 June 2013. AAAS, the science society. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-06/tkai-nsd061113.php.