Breath Biomarkers as Disease Indicators: Sensing Techniques Approach for Detecting Breath Gas and COVID-19

Zoltan Mihály Török, Arthur Frederic Blaser, Kiana Kavianynejad, Carlos Gonzalo Moya Gual de Torrella, Lawrence Nsubuga, Yogendra Kumar Mishra*, Horst Günter Rubahn, Roana de Oliveira Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Extensive research shows that there is a close correlation between a disease diagnostic and the patient’s exhale breath gas composition. It has been demonstrated, for example, that patients with a diabetes diagnosis have a certain level of acetone fume in their exhale breath. Actually, symptoms from many other diseases could be easily diagnosed if appropriate and reliable gas sensing technologies are available. The COVID-19 pandemic has created demand for a cheap and quick screening tool for the disease, where breath biomarker screening could be a very promising approach. It has been shown that COVID-19 patients potentially present a simultaneous increase in ethanal (acetaldehyde) and acetone in their exhale breath. In this paper, we explore two different sensing approaches to detect ethanal/acetone, namely by colorimetric markers, which could for example be integrated into facemasks, and by a breathalyzer containing a functionalized quartz crystal microbalance. Both approaches can successfully detect the presence of a biomarker gas on a person’s breath and this could potentially revolutionize the future of healthcare in terms of non-invasive and early-stage detection of various diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167
Issue number5
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • colorimetric sensing
  • COVID-19 detection
  • gas biomarker sensing


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