Exhaled breath is rich in biomarkers that can point to the presence of disease. In particular, ethanol, acetone, and isopropanol can point to the presence of lung cancer, so having a way of measuring these chemicals in breath might provide a way to diagnose lung cancers or to screen for them.
Current methods of measuring exhaled biomarkers are prone to inaccuracies due to the humidity of exhaled breath, difficulty of calibrating such systems, and the presence of multiple analytes within breath.
Researchers at University of Exeter have now shown that bare multi-layer graphene, a material one carbon atom thick, can in principle be used to accurately measure ethonal, isopropanol, and acetone in exhaled breath.
“The new biosensors which we have developed show that graphene has significant potential for use as an electrode in e-nose devices,” said Ben Hogan, a co-author of the study appearing in journal Nanoscale. “For the first time, we have shown that with suitable patterning graphene can be used as a specific, selective and sensitive detector for biomarkers.
Graphene is still difficult to produce in significant quantities, a fact that compounds any technology that depends on it. Work is underway to be able to manufacture graphene en masse, but there are serious fundamental limitations to that that will have to be overcome.
Open access study in journal Nanoscale: Multi-layer graphene as a selective detector for future lung cancer biosensing platforms…