Rapid detection of nicotine from breath using desorption ionisation on porous silicon

Journal: Chemical Communications

Published: 2017-05-04

DOI: 10.1039/c7cc00243b

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 3

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Research Highlight

Smoke signals on the breath

© Erik Jonsson/EyeEm /Getty

© Erik Jonsson/EyeEm /Getty

Nicotine can be directly detected in breath without the need for lengthy lab tests.

Breathalysers are commonly used for alcohol tests but on-the-spot screening for smaller molecules found in drugs, usually in saliva, can be unreliable and require further analysis in the lab.

A team including researchers from the University of South Australia made a breathalyser by inserting a porous silicon chip into a straw and used it to capture the breath from a habitual cigarette smoker. Laser excitation of the silicon surface revealed which molecules were present in the breath without interference, and revealed nicotine in the same concentrations as other lab-based screening methods.

The technique represents a promising step towards instant breath analysis for evidence of illegal drugs or biomarkers, molecules that could diagnose diseases.

Supported content

  1. Chem. Commun. 53, 5224-5226 (2017). doi: 10.1039/C7CC00243B
Institutions Share
Future Industries Institute, UniSA, Australia 0.50
Monash University, Australia 0.50