Respiratory monitoring sensor in clinical testing


EMERYVILLE, Calif.—With a half-million-dollar National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in hand, nanotechnology developer Nanomix Inc. is moving its disposable capnography sensor for anesthesia monitoring into clinical testing. Capnography is the measurement of carbon dioxide concentration in human respiration, and is a standard of care during administration of anesthesia.

The prototype device, fabricated at Nanomix's Emeryville cleanroom, uses carbon nanotubes as the active sensing element. The nanotubes, says Nanomix, are individual molecules to which electrical leads can be attached. Electrical properties of the molecules are monitored macroscopically as they respond to chemical changes at the molecular level. The company says its nanotube sensors are highly sensitive over a broad range of environments, and that multiple nanosensors can be integrated on one chip, with minimal power and space requirements.

"Physicians will be equipped to significantly improve monitoring of patients, especially in ambulatory and emergency settings," says NSF principal investigator Dr. Alexander Star. "The sensor embodies the critical advantages that nanotechnology brings to electronic applications—high performance and low cost in a tiny package."

Nanomix is collaborating with researchers at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School on the sensor's design and testing. The university is considered a center of excellence in anesthesiology, and the school's faculty has been among the leaders in development and testing of respiratory technology for more than 40 years.