Project

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Tailored nano-detectors for early stage diagnosis of ilnesses from the human breath

Applicant Pratsinis Sotiris E.
Number 130582
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Verfahrenstechnik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Mechanical Engineering
Start/End 01.05.2010 - 30.04.2013
Approved amount 193'838.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Mechanical Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Material Sciences

Keywords (4)

flame synthesis; nanoparticles; breath analysis; metal oxide sensors

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The rising costs of medical care are pushing toward a rash rationalization and restructuring of medical services including daily hospital care and diagnostic methods. For the latter, standard detection of illnesses have reached the limit of further economization as trained human resources are required. New methods such as non-invasive diagnostics by human breath analysis bear the potential of drastically reducing such diagnostic costs. Furthermore, breath analysis permits early stage detection of several illnesses allowing a prompt medical treatment with higher chances of patient recovery and better quality of life. Recently, human breath analysis is explored for diagnosis of diabetes, asthma and various types of cancer by detection of specific analytes also called breath markers. However, this is challenging the development of highly sensitive and selective sensors with low unit cost and sufficient portability. Solid state gas sensors based on metal oxides (MOx) are excellent candidates for detection of analytes in the sub-ppm range. Common sensing metal-oxides such as SnO2, however, suffer of high cross-sensitivity toward humidity and ethanol that are omnipresent in the human breath. Novel sensing materials such as epsilon-WO3 allow tailoring of the selectivity toward specific target analytes as their sensing mechanism and surface chemistry differ from that of SnO2.Here, MOx-based nanoparticles or nanofibers with closely controlled characteristics will be used to produce tailored nano-detectors for specific breath markers. The synthesis of such nanoparticles by scalable dry (aerosol) methods is a unique asset of our laboratory enabling a systematic investigation of the effect of dopants on such nanocomposite properties and performance. Process design will be guided by systematic particle dynamic simulations with population balances and/or Langevin dynamics. So noble metal and/or ceramic nanostructures will be flame-made and directly deposited onto sensor substrates and in-situ annealed. Close control of the target oxide saturation ratio will be used to switch between homogeneous nanoparticle synthesis and heterogeneous fiber growth on the substrate. The project target is the detailed investigation of the parameters which are essential to synthesis of sophisticated nanostructures for process understanding and the correlation between this properties and the sensing performance capitalizing and advancing our recent key discoveries in gas sensing: a) scalable synthesis of metastable epsilon-WO3, b) nanoelectrode devices, c) solid solutions of oxides that mitigate cross-sensitivity to humidity and d) nanofiber growth.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Breath analysis by nanostructured metal oxides as chemo-resistive gas sensors
Righettoni M. Amann A. Pratsinis S.E. (2015), Breath analysis by nanostructured metal oxides as chemo-resistive gas sensors, in Materials Today, 18, 163-171.
Correlations between blood glucose and breath components from portable gas sensors and PTR-TOF-MS
Righettoni M. Schmid A. Amann A. Pratsinis S.E. (2013), Correlations between blood glucose and breath components from portable gas sensors and PTR-TOF-MS, in Journal of Breath Research, 7, 037110.
Breath acetone monitoring by portable Si:WO3 gas sensors
Righettoni Marco, Tricoli Antonio, Gass Samuel, Schmid Alex, Amann Anton, Pratsinis Sotiris E (2012), Breath acetone monitoring by portable Si:WO3 gas sensors, in Analytica Chimica Acta, 738, 69-75.
Highly Porous TiO2 Films for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells
Tricoli Antonio, Wallerand Anna, Righettoni Marco (2012), Highly Porous TiO2 Films for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells, in Journal of Materials Chemistry, 22, 14254-14261.
Toward portable breath acetone analysis for diabetes detection
Righettoni Marco, Tricoli Antonio (2011), Toward portable breath acetone analysis for diabetes detection, in Journal of Breath Research, 5, 037109.
Scalable flame synthesis of SiO2 nanowires: dynamics of growth
Tricoli Antonio, Righettoni Marco, Krumeich Frank, Stark Wendelin J, Sotiris Pratsinis E (2010), Scalable flame synthesis of SiO2 nanowires: dynamics of growth, in Nanotechnology, 21, 465604.
Sensors for Highly Selective Detection of Acetone for Easy Diagnosis of Diabetes by Breath Analysis
Righettoni Marco, Tricoli Antonio, Pratsinis Sotiris E (2010), Sensors for Highly Selective Detection of Acetone for Easy Diagnosis of Diabetes by Breath Analysis, in Analytical Chemistry, 82, 3581-3587.
Thermally-stable, silica-doped ε-WO3 for sensing of acetone in the human breath
Righettoni Marco, Tricoli Antonio, Pratsinis Sotiris E (2010), Thermally-stable, silica-doped ε-WO3 for sensing of acetone in the human breath, in Chemistry of Materials, 22, 3152-3157.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Anton Amann Austria (Europe)
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
International Breath Analysis Meeting Poster Portable gas sensors for breath analysis 28.10.2012 Sonoma, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
Nanotech Talk given at a conference Breath acetone monitoring by portable Si:WO3 gas sensors 18.06.2012 Santa Clara, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
IMCS Talk given at a conference Breath acetone monitoring by portable Si:WO3 gas sensors 20.05.2012 Nuremberg, Germany Righettoni Marco;
IMCS Poster Microsensor arrays for breath analysis 20.05.2012 Nuremberg, Germany Righettoni Marco;
IMCS Poster Au nanoelectrodes below nanostructured SnO2 films for acetone detection during breath analysis 20.05.2012 Nuremberg, Germany Righettoni Marco;
Nanotech Poster Au nanoelectrodes for breath analysis 18.05.2012 Santa Clara, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
International Breath Analysis Meeting Talk given at a conference Breath acetone monitoring by portable Si:WO3 gas sensors 28.01.2012 Sonoma, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
Breath Analysis Summit Poster Portable gas sensor for breath analysis 01.09.2011 Parma, Italy Righettoni Marco;
ISOEN Poster Portable gas sensor for breath analysis 03.05.2011 New York, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
MRS Fall Meeting Talk given at a conference Thermally Stable, Silica-Doped -WO3 for Sensing of Acetone in the Human Breath 29.11.2010 Boston, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
MRS Fall Meeting Talk given at a conference Chemo-resistive gas sensors for easy diagnosis of diabetes by breath analysis 29.11.2010 Boston, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
MRS Fall Meeting Talk given at a conference Chemo-resistive gas sensors for easy diagnosis of diabetes by breath analysis 29.11.2010 Boston, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
AiChE 2010 Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Si:WO3 Sensors for Highly Selective Detection of Acetone for Easy Diagnosis of Diabetes by Breath Analysis 07.11.2010 Salt Lake City, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
IEEE Sensors Poster Si:WO3 Sensors for noninvasive diabetes diagnosis by breath analysis 01.11.2010 Hawaii, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
AAAR Poster Portable gas sensor for breath analysis 25.10.2010 Portland, United States of America Righettoni Marco;
ECI Exhaled Breath analysis Poster Chemo-resistive gas sensors for easy diagnosis of diabetes by breath analysis 24.10.2010 Barga, Italy Righettoni Marco;
ECI Exhaled Breath analysis Talk given at a conference Thermally stable, silica doped silica doped WO3 for sensing of acetone in the human breath 24.10.2010 Barga, Italy Righettoni Marco;
International Aerosol Conference Poster Si:WO3 Sensors for Highly Selective Detection of Acetone for Easy Diagnosis of Diabetes by Breath Analysis 29.08.2010 Helsinki, Finland Righettoni Marco;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Finger-pricks a thing of the past ETH Life Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2010
Media relations: print media, online media Nanotech breath sensor detects diabetes and potentially serious complication ACS News International 2010

Awards

Title Year
ETH Medal for outstanding Dissertation 2014
MRS Graduate Student Silver Award 2010

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159763 Nanostructured metal-oxide gas sensors for non-invasive disease detection by breath analysis 01.04.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
144961 System for space-resolved surface analysis of nanomaterials 01.12.2012 R'EQUIP
175754 Flame-made gas sensor arrays: Membrane-enhanced selectivity for breath analysis 01.04.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The rising costs of medical care are pushing toward a rash rationalization and restructuring of medical services including daily hospital care and diagnostic methods. For the latter, standard detection of illnesses such as blood analysis, gastroscopy, endoscopy, and ultrasonic imaging have reached the limit of further economization as trained human resources are required. New methods such as non-invasive diagnostics by human breath analysis bear the potential of drastically reducing such diagnostic costs as a greater amount of automatization is possible. Furthermore, breath analysis permits early stage detection of several illnesses allowing a prompt medical treatment with higher chances of patient recovery and better quality of life.Recently, human breath analysis is explored for diagnosis of diabetes, asthma and various types of cancer by detection of specific analytes also called breath markers. For example, acetone concentrations in the breath above 1.8 ppm are related to type-1 diabetes. However, this is challenging the development of highly sensitive and selective sensors with low unit cost and sufficient portability. In fact, there are only traces of the target analyte in the human breath and the threshold between healthy and sick patients is often in the ppb range. Furthermore, the human breath has more than 1000 components, including ethanol and water vapor, and therefore detectors with high selectivity are required. Solid state gas sensors based on metal oxides (MOx) are excellent candidates for detection of analytes in the sub-ppm range. Their sensitivity can be enhanced greatly by decreasing the grain and neck sizes at about twice their Debye length. Furthermore, integration of MOx detectors in standard wafer-level micromachining processes allows fabrication of miniaturized devices with high portability and low unit cost. Common sensing metal-oxides such as SnO2, however, suffer of high cross-sensitivity toward humidity and ethanol that are omnipresent in the human breath. Novel sensing materials such as epsilon-WO3 allow tailoring of the selectivity toward specific target analytes as their sensing mechanism and surface chemistry differ from that of SnO2. In fact, the epsilon-phase of nanostructured WO3 that was made and stabilized at ambient conditions by flame technology in our labs is ferroelectric with a strong electric dipole moment. This leads to stronger interaction between its surface and analytes with high dipole moment (e.g. acetone) than with others (e.g. ethanol, CO, NO2) attesting its selectivity. These promising results are motivating here the synthesis and characterization of novel single and multi-component metal-oxides with unique phase composition and surface chemistry.Here, MOx-based nanoparticles or nanofibers (M = W, Mo, Ti, Sn, Si) with closely controlled characteristics (primary particle, crystal, aggregate and agglomerate sizes, fiber length to width ratio, phase and chemical composition) will be used to produce tailored nano-detectors for specific breath markers. The synthesis of such nanoparticles by scalable dry (aerosol) methods is a unique asset of our laboratory enabling a systematic investigation of the effect of dopants on such nanocomposite properties and performance. Process design will be guided by systematic particle dynamic simulations with population balances and/or Langevin dynamics. So noble metal and/or ceramic nanostructures will be flame-made and directly deposited onto water-cooled sensor substrates and in-situ annealed. Close control of the target oxide saturation ratio will be used to switch between homogeneous nanoparticle synthesis and heterogeneous fiber growth on the substrate. The project target is the detailed investigation of the parameters which are essential to synthesis of sophisticated nanostructures for process understanding and the correlation between this properties and the sensing performance capitalizing and advancing our recent key discoveries in gas sensing: a) scalable synthesis of metastable epsilon-WO3, b) nanoelectrode devices, c) solid solutions of oxides that mitigate cross-sensitivity to humidity and d) nanofiber growth. Films of nanoparticles and nanofibers made here will be characterized by X-ray diffraction, nitrogen adsorption, TEM and SEM imaging, spectroscopy analysis (Raman, FTIR, UV/vis), impedance spectroscopy as well as electrical and sensing performance. This project will contribute to the education of two PhD students in engineering, specializing in nanostructure processing and sensor development for medical diagnostics. Also it will help participating BS & MS students for their thesis to gain knowledge in analytical methods and process design in an exciting engineering field. Results will be presented at international conferences and published in refereed journals.
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