Researchers at the University of Cambridge have come up with something really brilliant. They have managed to come up with creative new invention that is a breath analyzer. But breathalyzers have been around for a long time. What makes this invention so noteworthy? Well, this is no ordinary breathalyzer; it is a microchip which is the size of a dime and can detect up to an astonishing amount of chemical substances.
For researcher Dr. Andrew Koehl, this little piece of technology is unparalleled. “We can detect down to parts per billion levels. To give you an analogy that’s equivalent to one drop in an Olympic size swimming pool,” he explains.
The sensor is perhaps one of a kind in detecting such minuscule amounts of chemicals in the air, and comparing them against normal levels. If the levels of these chemicals in a certain specimen exceed the normal levels, the chip can sound an alarm.
“What’s amazing is that there really are compounds on your breath that indicate illness, that’s been shown through a number of studies and we can detect those,” he said.
It is true that we continue to excrete substances, which are toxic to us or in any way are unwanted, through different disposal mechanisms. One simple way is to breathe out these chemicals, which can then be analyzed by this particular chip and give us an insight about the kind of disease a person may or may not have.
“There have already been a number of research papers published suggesting we can detect cancer, detect tuberculosis, detect asthma.”
The developers want to expand the use of this chip and introduce it to companies which will be able to analyze the amount of chemicals in a substance. In common house hold the chip may prove to be a good indicator of how old or rotten a particular substance may be just by analyzing the smell it gives off.
“More recently we’ve been looking at consumer spaces so we’re talking to a number of manufacturers of mobile phones and mobile phone components,” he said. “We want to develop a module small enough to put into mobile devices like phones.”
And finally, putting it into mobile phones will perhaps give this little chip a great boost.