Sniffing out disease: Detection of airborne bio-markers of human disease
This project is part of a larger programme to identify, diagnose and monitor diseases from the airborne gases and vapours that emanate from a patient. Here we are looking at a patients breath, sweat or urine and using this output to detect diseases such as cancers, liver disease, diabetes, irritable bowel disease and many others. This work is in collaboration with many NHS hospitals throughout the UK, with University Hospital, Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) being the main partner. There are a number of different project available in this area. These include instrumentation and sensor design, signal processing and biological studies of disease.
Development of MEMS based inorganic based metal-oxide gas sensors for portable devices
This project aims to develop a new generation of gas sensor materials focussed on portable devices and the internet of things. Metal-oxides are one of the most commercially successful gas sensor materials currently available. They are used extensively for a range of applications from the detection of poisonous gases to the monitoring of air quality within the cars and in the home, but have limitations when they come to power consumption, sensitivity, selectivity and repeatability. This project will be focus on the development of the next generation of metal-oxide substrates and materials to create sensors with lower power consumption, lower operational temperatures and better sensing performance that currently available. By improving these characteristics and offering a ‘smart’ sensor design we believe we can create new sensors for portable devices and the internet of things – providing personalised air quality monitoring in our towns and cities.
Development and application of electronic noses to Agriculture
This project aims to develop new and innovative electronic nose instruments to identify and monitor the heath of crops in the field, storage and in packing. Every year millions of tons of crops are lost through disease infection and poor crop health. This leads to significant loss to the farmer and the industry. What is needed is a simple, low-cost method of monitoring and then altering the treatment pathway of a crop to maximise its potential. We believe that the detection gas phase biomarkers (odours that emanate from a crop) could fulfil this roll. We have already experience with potato storage and we wish to expand into a range of agricultural targets, evaluating potatoes (in packaging and in the field) and expanding into onions and other vegetables (swedes, broccoli etc.). The project will use a range of electronic nose instruments available at Warwick University and evaluate their efficacy in disease management, followed by the use/part development of a custom system dedicated for agriculture.
Computerised aroma generation for human health
This project aims to develop and explore the use of aromas to aid in human health. Of our main sensors, our sense of smell is one of least used and explored. Part of this is due to the lack of a convenient technology that can release aromas in a controlled and personalised manner. Current aroma technology is based on candles, compressed air fresheners and perfumes. Our project is to move forward the field of aroma generation, to produce an “Aroma-Player” that can be used to create personalised aromas though a portable device.
Once created, we will work with our perfumer partners to create a range of new aromas that we believe can aid in human health. Our focus is on two areas, helping people sleep (focussed on hospital environments to help sleep and then reduce recovery times) and secondly to use aromas to reduce pain – for use within primary and secondary care – and even in the home. We believe this could make a significant impact in society.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the above, please contact Dr James Covington.