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High sensitivity, high specificity millimeter-wave breath sensor based on molecular absorption spectroscopy


Goal of this project is to develop a novel, very sensitive and highly specific sensor for human breath analysis, which is based on molecular absorption spectroscopy at frequencies between 230 and 260 GHz. The sensor will allow detecting many relevant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in human breath simultaneously. Different pulmonary and non-pulmonary diseases can be compared bioinformatically using the characteristic VOC profiles or patterns generated by the sensor.

IHP`s Contribution

The contribution of the IHP department Circuit Design is the development of the SiGe-transmitter (TX) and receiver (RX) to meet the relevant frequency range for breath analysis, which is from 230 to 260 GHz. Further, frequency and/or amplitude modulation of the TX and a corresponding demodulation technique for the RX will be implemented to increase considerably the sensitivity of the future TX/RX system compared to the present spectroscopy system.


This research is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the Priority Program SPP 1857/1 - ESSENCE – Electromagnetic Sensors for Life Sciences.

Project Partners

Technische Universität Berlin, DLR Berlin, and Universität Marburg.

Selected Publications

[1] K. Schmalz, R. Wang, W. Debski, H. Gulan, J. Borngräber, P. Neumaier, H. W. Hübers, “245 GHz SiGe Sensor System for Gas Spectroscopy,“ Int. J. of Microwave and Wireless Technologies, vol. 7 (3/4), pp. 271-278, June 2015.

[2] K. Schmalz, J. Borngräber, W. Debski, P. Neumaier, R. Wang, D. Kissinger, and H.-W. Hübers, “Tunable 500 GHz sensor system in SiGe technology for gas spectroscopy,“ Electronics Letters, vol. 51, no. 17, pp. 1345–1347, Aug. 2015.

[3] K. Schmalz, J. Borngräber, W. Debski, M. Elkhouly, R. Wang, P. Neumaier, H.-W. Hübers, “245 GHz SiGe Transmitter Array for Gas Spectroscopy,” IEEE Trans. on Terahertz Science and Technology, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 318-327, March 2016.

The building and the infrastructure of the IHP were funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union, funds of the Federal Government and also funds of the Federal State of Brandenburg.