The sensor measures amounts as small as one ppb (part per billion), making it as sensitive as larger devices that are far more expensive and not portable. One ppb corresponds approximately to the dilution of a cube of sugar in a 50 meter-long swimming pool. The new sensor is contained in a prototype device that will be portable and only a little larger than a cell phone.
In patients suffering from asthma, the latent inflammation of the bronchial tubes generally spreads long before the patients actually feel anything. If the inflammation is intense, the air passages constrict and the patient has an asthma attack. The attacks can be so serious that the patient has to be treated in hospital, which is why many asthma sufferers regularly take anti-inflammatory medication. Previously, the only way to detect impending asthma attacks in advance was to conduct expensive pulmonary examinations to determine if the patient’s breath contained heightened levels of nitrogen monoxide (NO), which signal such an attack. By contrast, the new sensor from Siemens Corporate Technology will enable patients to analyze the NO in their breath themselves. As a result, they will be able to take the minimum amount of preventive medication and increase the dose only if really necessary.
The new sensor can detect increases in NO one day before an acute asthma attack occurs. Over the past few years, medical researchers and health insurance companies have recognized that NO levels are an effective indication of an impending asthma attack. In the analysis of a patient’s breath, the system first converts nitrogen monoxide into nitrogen dioxide, after which the air flows across the actual sensor. Only the particles signaling the attack adhere to the sensor’s surface. This generates a voltage that is measured by a field-effect transistor. The intensity of the voltage is directly dependent on the amount of nitrogen monoxide in the patient’s breath. On the basis of this value, the patient can decide what dose of anti-inflammatory medication he or she should take.
Another type of breath sensor under consideration would allow athletes to check whether they are exercising enough to burn fat. The detection principle is the same, except that the system measures the level of acetone. The latter is generated in the body when fat is burned and is also detectable in a person’s breath.
Dr. Norbert Aschenbrenner | Siemens InnovationNews
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Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy