NSF-supported researchers at Nanomix, Inc., in Emeryville, Calif., have created a transistor that fuses carbon nanotubes, polymers and silicon into a capnography sensor -- a human breathing monitor.
Alexander Star and his colleagues at Nanomix and the University of California, Los Angeles, describe the new sensor in the cover article of the November 15 issue of the journal Advanced Materials. Their study shows that carbon nanotube transistors fused with carbon dioxide-detecting polymers can determine carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in both ambient and exhaled air.
Capnography sensors detect subtle changes in the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in a person's breath, revealing respiratory diseases in children and adults, and allowing anesthesiologists to monitor a patient's breathing during surgery.
In the field, emergency responders may be able to use the new sensor to verify proper breathing tube placement, monitor the patient's respiratory patterns and assess the effect of life support measures.
While the Nanomix device is already capable of monitoring human breathing in laboratory settings, the researchers are collaborating with anesthesiologists and other specialists at the University of California, San Francisco, to design and test a field-ready medical device.
The Nanomix researchers developed their nanotube transistor as part of NSF's Small Business Innovation Research program, and they are also applying the new technology to optoelectronic memory applications.
The same electronic interactions between polymers and carbon nanotubes that sense CO2 can also yield photo-sensitive devices that record the binary "on" and "off" patterns of digital memory. The memory i
Contact: Josh Chamot
National Science Foundation