Students at the University of Boulder Colorado have developed a device that can identify diseases from a simple breath. It works by detecting single molecules that are associated with the disease. The students’ work is based off a 2005 Nobel winning device called the optical frequency comb, which they paired with spectroscopy. To achieve a reading the patient simply breathes into a microwave oven sized device. Lasers are then passed through the molecules tens of thousands of times for analysis. For example, a student that smoked had 5 times the amount of carbon monoxide normally found in nonsmoking individuals. Total cost of the device was just $50,000, but they hope a market ready device will be far cheaper. Although the machine is very much in a nascent stage and can only detect attributes associated with lung diseases, the team has already received numerous calls from companies looking to take the technology to market.
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