Scientists at the
By bolstering super-tiny carbon nanotubes with titanium dioxide--the same ingredient found in most sunscreens--the researchers discovered that they could produce an electrical semiconductor with ultra-high sensitivity to acetone vapors.
Diabetics produce higher-than-normal concentrations of acetone when their blood glucose levels are high. The excess acetone is exhaled at high rates, causing a "fruity" aroma on their breath. The acetone sensitivity of the hybrid nanostructure developed by the researchers makes it potentially useful for application in a breath analyzer to test for and monitor diabetes.
Sensors based on carbon nanotubes are extremely small, inexpensive, and use little to no power. They are also compatible with complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology, which means they could potentially be incorporated into modern electronic devices, such as smart phones. These advantages make these sensors ideal for chemical sensing and non-invasive medical diagnostic tools. If used as a sensing tool, the material could offer millions of diabetics a non-invasive alternative method for testing blood sugar.
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