System for Measuring Nitric Oxide in Breath Vapor

A novel system that selectively detects nitric oxide and generates a voltage indicating the measured amount.

The Need

Nitric oxide plays an important role in the biological system of living organisms. Nitiric oxide has been shown to regulate and mediate numerous processes in the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems by transmitting signals throughout the body. It is used within the cardiovascular system to regulate smooth muscle relaxation, dilation of blood vessels, enlargement of arteries and blood flow. Nitric oxide is also used by the nervous system as a neurotransmitter to regulate various bodily function such as digestion, blood flow, memory and vision.Furthermore, it is produced by macrophages in the immune system and can help kill bacteria, parasites and tumor cells by disrupting their metabolism. Besides mediating normal biological functions, nitiric oxide also provides benefits when in pathophysiologic states including septic shock, hypertension, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. The amount of nitric oxide in exhaled breath can also provide a convenient measure of inflammation in respiratory system which can help diagnose and treat asthma. Typical methods for detecting nitric oxide include optical spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, chromatography, chemiluminescence, and electrochemistry. Due to the important role of nitric oxide as a messenger molecule in various bodily systems, a convenient method for measuring and monitoring the amount of it within the body must be developed.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University led by Dr. Prabir Dutta have developed a novel system for measuring the amount of nitric oxide within breath vapor. The original breath sample is received by the inlet of the system and is then fluidly transferred to a humidifier. The sample then exits the humidifier with a humidity that is above a predetermined level. The humidified sample is then sent to the electrochemical sensor which generates a voltage that is indicative of the amount of nitric oxide that is present within the original sample. The sensor system is able to detect nitric oxide on a parts-per-billion (ppb) scale and demonstrates selective detection within a vapor mixture. This system provides a quick and convenient means for measuring and monitoring the amount of nitric oxide within the body.


  • Environmental/Industrial/Automotive/Biomedical applications
  • Potentiometric mode
  • Operational temperature: 450-600°C
  • Mode 1: sensitive to ppb levels (biomarker for respiratory disease diagnosis) / Mode 2: sensitive to ppm to percent levels (environmental application)
  • No interference from CO and hydrocarbons
  • Technology Readiness Level: TRL 6 (prototype system verified in operational environment)

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