Home innovations IIT Jodhpur researchers develop the first “Make in India” Sensor for Alcohol Detection through Breath Monitoring

IIT Jodhpur researchers develop the first “Make in India” Sensor for Alcohol Detection through Breath Monitoring

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Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur researchers have developed the first “Make in India” human breath sensor based on metal oxides and nano silicon operating at room temperature. The device’s primary function is to measure alcohol content in the breath in drunk and driving cases. However, with some changes in sensing layers and the use of an array of sensors (for Electronic Nose or Artificial Nose), and data analytics, it can also be very useful for characterization of diseases, such as asthma, diabetic ketoacidosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, and cardiac arrest, where the person’s breath volatile organic compounds are monitored.

There was a greater need for the development of a quick, affordable, non-invasive health monitoring device, given the growing concerns about the adverse impact of air pollution on human health and the environment. The existing sensors are based on fuel cell-based technology or metal oxide technology. Hence, it motivated the researchers to take up the work and develop a breath VOC sensor whose cost will be less than the existing fuel cell technology-based device. In similar lines, the team has developed a Breath monitoring sensor based on partially reduced graphene oxide. The research was published by Mr. Nikhil Vadera, PhD student, IDRP- Smart Healthcare, IIT Jodhpur, and Dr. Saakshi Dhanekar, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Jodhpur, in IEEE Sensors Letters.

A similar electronic nose can be utilized for volatile organic compounds (VOC) monitoring in the environment as well as for the detection and measurement of other breath biomarkers for disease by modifying the sensors and machine learning algorithms. VOCs are a diverse group of organic chemicals that can evaporate into the air and are commonly found in various products and environments. The current breath analysers are either bulky or require a long preparation time and a heater. This adds up to the power consumption of the device and a long waiting time. The developed sensor operates at room temperature and is like a plug-and-play.

The technology behind this device is an electronic nose with room-temperature operable heterostructure (metal oxide with nano silicon). The sensors react with the alcohol in the sample and depict a change in resistance. This change is proportional to the concentration of alcohol in the sample. Also, the data collected from this sensor array is processed using machine learning algorithms for identifying the patterns of different components of breath and segregating alcohol from the mixture of volatile organic compounds.

The research was funded by the Biotechnology Ignition Grant Scheme (BIG), Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), and the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

Talking about the future scope of the research, Dr. Saakshi Dhanekar, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Jodhpur said, “Continued research and development in these directions could lead to the practical implementation of the breath diagnostics in various fields, ranging from healthcare and wellness to wearable technology and IoT applications. The output of the sensors can be connected to Raspberry Pi and the data can be sent to a doctor or phone.” 

She further added, “My start-up ‘Sensekriti Technology Solutions Pvt Ltd’ does innovation for the benefit of the society. The team sees the challenge in research as an opportunity and solves it by using three tools: creativity, perseverance, and exceptional teamwork.”


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