Design and Implementation of a Laser-Based Ammonia Breath Sensor for Medical Applications

  • Kyle Owen

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Laser-based sensors can be used as non-invasive monitoring tools to measure parts per billion (ppb) levels of trace gases. Ammonia sensors are useful for applications in environmental pollutant monitoring, atmospheric and combustion kinetic studies, and medical diagnostics. This sensor was specifically designed to measure ammonia in exhaled breath to be used as a medical diagnostic and monitoring tool, however, it can also be extended for use in other applications. Although ammonia is a naturally occurring species in exhaled breath, abnormally elevated levels can be an indication of adverse medical conditions. Laser-based breath diagnostics have many benefits since they are cost effective, non-invasive, painless, real time monitors. They have the potential to improve the quality of medical care by replacing currently used blood tests and providing immediate feedback to physicians. This sensor utilizes a Quantum Cascade Laser and Wavelength Modulation Spectroscopy with second harmonic normalized by first harmonic detection in a 76 m multi-pass absorption cell to measure ppb levels of ammonia with improved sensitivity over previous sensors. Initial measurements to determine the ammonia absorption line parameters were performed using direct absorption spectroscopy. This is the first experimental study of the ammonia absorption line transitions near 1103.46 cm
Date of AwardJun 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Science and Engineering
SupervisorAamir Farooq (Supervisor)


  • Laser
  • absorption
  • Spectroscopy
  • Ammonia
  • Breath
  • Sensor

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