While the current device is a patent-pending prototype, BelBruno foresees the eventual availability of an affordable consumer version that will incorporate a computer processor, reusable polymer films, and a rechargeable battery. It may even incorporate an LED panel to provide instantaneous readouts.
In addition to its uses in safeguarding childhood health, there are commercial applications for these unique detectors. Installed in rental cars, hotel rooms, and restaurants, this device could help enforce owner and operator smoking bans through an alert system, much like existing, ceiling-mounted smoke detectors.
Before the secondhand smoke project, BelBruno's lab had been working on sensor development for problem molecules such as heavy metals and other toxins in the water and the air. BelBruno says that David Kotz, the Champion International Professor of Computer Science, was the catalyst for the secondhand smoke project.
"He knew that people at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth were interested in doing a study to try to reduce children's exposure to secondhand smoke, and he knew that we were working on sensors. He got us together, we talked, and this project came out of it."
Given the hundreds of compounds in cigarette smoke, BelBruno's group began with a plan for a multi-component sensor but found this approach unnecessarily complex. The sensor they came up with detects cigarette smoke alone, simply and efficiently.
The research team included Dartmouth chemistry graduate students Yuan Liu and Sadik Antwi-Boampong, and from the Geisel School of Medicine, Mardi Crane-Godreau (Department of Microbiology and Immunology) and Susanne Tanski (Department of Pediatrics and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center). Crane tested the device in a laboratory smoking chamber and Tanski plans to start clinical studies th
|Contact: John Cramer|