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Fall 2015

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.

Nose knows

Waiting to Exhale

Handheld device could soon detect dangerous gas vapors caused by diseases, explosives, allergens, and more 

Alice Sun

Alice Sun

Imagine a handheld device that could detect if a person has diabetes, determine if accelerants were used in a fire, and identify allergens and toxic fumes in the environment.

Yuze “Alice” Sun, an assistant professor in electrical engineering, and Weidong Zhou, a professor of electrical engineering, received a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build a tool that would use nanoscale gas chromatography to separate vapors from a person’s breath or the air in a room and detect possible hazards.

“Our sensors can separate hundreds of vapors in complex samples and identify the ones that could be used as chemical markers,” Dr. Sun explains. “Many devices like this are large and don’t always have separation capabilities to provide detection specificity.”

The device could help find certain allergens or toxins in a home and determine whether explosives are present in luggage or on a person. It also has important health applications, such as making it easier to detect diabetes.

“This is a very hot area—personalized medicine,” Dr. Zhou says. “The device can target a person’s individual health care needs and will have the power to detect very, very low vapor concentrations because the sensors are extremely sensitive.”

“Imagine being able to non-invasively monitor a person’s blood sugar level instead of having that diabetic prick their finger to do a blood test,” Sun adds. “That’s our eventual goal.”

More articles from this issue

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