A portable, portable device for rapid gas analysis – News Center

Friday August 05, 2022 • Herbalism:
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An electrical engineering researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington is creating a handheld, wearable device for rapid gas analysis that could detect disease immediately.

Yuze “Alice” Sun

Yuze “Alice” Sun, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, said the device will play an important role in the fields of health, industrial and workplace safety, environmental monitoring and defense and national security.

For her research, she received a $550,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnerships for Innovation–Research Partnerships program, which aims to accelerate lab-developed devices to market. The title of the project is: “PFI-RP: Portable integrated photonic gas chromatography micro-chromatography system for rapid gas analysis.

Weidong Zhou, professor of electrical engineering at UTA, is co-principal investigator of the project. The team will also work closely with its industry partner, ams Sensors USA Inc., part of ams OSRAM AG, a global leader in optical sensing solutions.

Advances in micro-gas chromatography over the past 20 years have demonstrated great potential for the development of powerful portable gas analysis devices. But it remains a challenge to achieve efficient separation and rapid detection for efficient gas analysis in a highly integrated and cost-effective platform, as well as in a mobile device.

Sun said his project will create technology to transform a powerful gas analysis instrument traditionally used in research labs into handheld and portable devices that are readily accepted and accessible by the public.

“Key to the project is system-level integration, including the creation of a new micro-gas chromatography architecture and the use of integrated photonic circuits to achieve rapid and comprehensive analysis of volatile organic compounds” , Sun said.

The broad applications could propel the device to market faster. She said homeowners could use the device to monitor the air quality in their home and determine if certain allergens were present.

Firefighters could use the device to determine if accelerators were present during a fire. And Homeland Security agents could use the device to determine if explosives or toxic substances were present in luggage or on a person.

In healthcare, the device could analyze a person’s breath samples to find chemical markers specifically linked to infections, cancers and other health conditions. This, in turn, could lead to a convenient and quick-to-use home health screening and monitoring tool.

“Not only does the project have the potential to improve our lives, it could take up much less space than current chromatographic analysis machines,” said Diane Huffaker, president and professor of electrical engineering. “It could also save a lot of time in testing.”

Sun’s research interests focus on optofluidics, nanophotonics, biophotonics, lasers, biosensing, chemical sensing, microfluidics/lab-on-a-chip, and photonics/bioinspired engineering.

She has received additional research grants from the NSF, including an Early CAREER grant to develop an all-liquid optofluidic laser that could better detect cancer in the comfort of a doctor’s office, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the Department of Defence, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Army Research Office.

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