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Bioinstrumentation and BioMEMS Laboratory

Novel Microelectromechanical (MEMS) Devices

Microelectromechanical (MEMS) systems are routinely created to shrink complex tasks down to "chip-based" devices, and can be used for many different application areas. Our group has many activities going on in this area, including one study recently published this past year.[Strand N, Bhushan A, Schivo M, Kenyon N, Davis CE*. (2010) Chemically polymerized polypyrrole for on-chip concentration of volatile breath metabolites. Sensors and Actuators B 143(2): 516-523.]

In this study, we examined how new devices could be made from patternable conductive polymers to achieve concentration microsystems for breath analytes. Polypyrrole was patterned and used to absorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are exhaled in human breath. As exhaled breath flows over the device, the metabolites absorb onto the device concentrating specific compounds.


We found that some compounds in breath were selectively absorbed and concentrated beyond ambient exogenous compounds, showing this as a viable new method for pre-concentrating breath biomarkers prior to on-chip detection.


At least 16 compounds desorbed from the PPy devices appeared to be concentrated metabolites from exhaled human breath. Chromatograms for each peak are shown and marked with a number at the highest point, and peaks that were concentrated from the environment are also noted (*).