Sensors for Breath and Skin Testing: From Nanomaterials and Surface Modifications to Comprehensive Disease Detection

Hossam Haick, Chemical Engineering, Technion - IIT, Haifa, Israel (

The analysis of volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath or skin samples represents a new frontier in medical diagnostics because it is non-invasive and potentially inexpensive. This talk pays attention to the technological gaps and confounding factors related to nanomaterial sensor-based breath / skin testing, in the hope of directing future research and development efforts towards the best possible approaches to overcoming these obstacles. The talk discusses breath testing as a complex process involving numerous steps, each of which has various possible technological alternatives with advantages and drawbacks that might affect the performance of the nanomaterial-based sensors that lie at the heart of the breath / skin testing system. With this in mind, different ways to choose nanomaterial-based sensors and the related surface modifications are discussed, while considering the profile of the targeted breath markers and the possible limitations of the applied sensing approach, and going hand in hand with the choice of the surrounding breath-testing setup. The talk will also discuss how the dynamic range and selectivity of the applied sensors can be tailored to detect pre-evaluated breath and disease-related volatile organic compounds. Based on these aspects, the account will describe the benefits and implications of using nanomaterial-based sensors for breath / skin testing and suggest ways to overcome these obstacles, either through approaches concerning the improvement of the sensing elements or through supporting techniques such as preconcentration and dehumidification techniques.

Short Biography of Presenting Author

Hossam Haick is a Full Professor in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and head of three major European consortia, has received numerous prestigious Prizes and Awards and was included in several important lists, including the list of the world’s 35 leading young scientists published by MIT’s Technology Review, the Nominet Trust 100 list (London), which includes the world’s 100 most influential inventors and digital developments, and the Los Angeles-based GOOD Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Highly multi-disciplinary in nature, the research of Prof. Haick combines knowledge from diverse fields, including nanotechnology, microfluidics, machine learning, biochemistry, medicine and genetics. Borrowing from these different disciplines, his research team develops novel solid-state and flexible devices/sensors as well as electronic sensory nanoarrays non-invasive diagnosis of diseases via volatile biomarkers. Prof. Haick’s comprehensive approach comprises materials and device development, system integration, testing in lab and clinical environments and exploitation of project results/hardware.

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