Analysis of Volatile and Non-Volatile Biomarkers in Human Breath Using Differential Mobility Spectrometry (DMS)

Cristina E Davis, Shankar Sankaran, Mary A. Molina, Bryan R. Loyola, Weixiang Zhao, Michael Schivo, Nicholas Kenyon, Michael J. Bogan, W. Henry Benner, George R. Farquar, Matthias Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Exhaled human breath contains thousands of chemicals that are potential biomarkers of disease or chemical exposure. Although many bench-top analytical instruments could measure concentrations of these chemicals, small and portable systems have the best advantage of being used in a clinical point-of-care environment or in a field setting. Here, we demonstrate coupling a miniature differential mobility spectrometer (DMS) with both a gas chromatograph (GC) and separately an electrospray ionization (ESI) module to analyze exhaled breath condensate. Our combined GC/DMS and ESI/DMS instrument systems are capable of measuring an extremely large number of chemical analytes contained in exhaled breath condensate. We have established methodologies for detecting single compounds and approximate the limits of detection for our systems. The detection limit and analytical power are clinically relevant for many potential biomarkers, and suggests our device may have many applications for disease diagnostics in human breath analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Biosensor
  • breath analysis
  • differential mobility spectrometer (DMS)
  • electrospray ionization (ESI)
  • exhaled breath condensate (EBC)
  • gas chromatography (GC)
  • microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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