ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
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Breath analysis with MEMS


Read more about MEMS research at the website of the MEMS Lab at Virginia Tech

MEMS micropreconcentrator

3-D rendering of the micropreconcentrator, inset are SEM micrographs of the fabricated microstructures.

Gas chromatography, the separation of a gaseous mixture into its components, currently requires bulky tabletop instruments — requiring samples to be acquired, stored, and transported to a laboratory. In collaboration with Andrea Dietrich of civil and environmental engineering, Masoud Agah and other MEMS researchers are working on micro gas chromatography: making the gas chromatography systems small enough to be handheld for applications such as accurate breath analysis systems.

Their specific focus is a micropreconcentrator, which is the part of the device that collects samples of a gas. According to Agah, “The micropreconcentrator’s high performance is attributed to the multiple inlets/outlets, novel high-aspect-ratio (360 m) parabolic reflectors, and cobweb configuration of absorbent films, all of which promote the absorption of chemical species. The performance of the new design was compared with solid phase microextraction (SPME), a commonly used sample preparation method in breath analysis.”