The Future of Sensors and Instrumentation for Human Breath Analysis


Davis, C. E., Frank, M., Mizaikoff, B., & Oser, H. (2010). The future of sensors and instrumentation for human breath analysis. IEEE sensors journal, 10(1), 3-6.


The previous three decades have provided a wealth of information on the identity of chemical compounds that are exhaled in human breath. Also during this time pioneering advances in the analytical assessment of chemical constituents and metabolites exhaled in human breath have helped to push forward the research field. While the physiological relevance and presence of many components in breath is not yet fully elucidated, it is evident that the composition of exhaled breath (EB) and breath condensate (EBC) provide a complex mirror image of the biochemical processes within the body, which may be correlated to the physiological status, disease progression, or therapeutic progress of a patient.

Much progress has been made on determining the identities of many volatile and nonvolatile breath biomarkers using mainly bench-top traditional analytical equipment. Although work still continues and is still urgently needed in the biomarker area, more recent engineering research efforts on this topic area have concentrated on advancing compact analytical techniques, in particular, novel sensor concepts enabling monitoring of known biomarker constituents in EB at appropriate concentration levels.

It is anticipated that in the coming decade a wealth of technologies will emerge as commercial products, making clinical breath analysis tests and personalized breath monitors a reality. However, success in these areas will largely depend on how well the adapted sensing concepts will meet a range of engineering, design, and analytical challenges that are specific to breath analyte detection. This Special Topics Issue provides an overview of currently explored sensing techniques and methods that are being researched and developed in academic and industrial settings, often at various technology maturity levels. The purpose of this Special Issue is to represent a sampling of research approaches from within this dynamic development area, and to also educate readers as to the demanding challenges of
this emerging research area.

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