Background: The scientific and clinical interest of breath analysis for non-invasive disease diagnosis has been focused by the scientific community over the past decade. This was due to the exhalation of prominent volatile organic compounds (VOCs) corresponding to the metabolic activities in the body and their concentration variation. To identify these biomarkers, various analytical techniques have been used in the past and the threshold concentration was established between a healthy and diseased state. Subsequently, various nanomaterials-based gas sensors were explored for their demand in quantifying these biomarkers for real-time, low cost and portable breathalyzers along with the essential sensor performances.
Methods: We focus on the classification of graphene derivatives and their composites’ gas sensing efficiency for the application in the development of breathalyzers. The review begins with the feasibility of the application of nanomaterial gas sensors for healthcare applications. Then, we systematically report the gas sensing performance of various graphene derivatives/semiconductor metal oxides (SMO) binary nanocomposites and their optimizing strategies in selective detection of biomarkers specific to diseases. Finally, we provide insights on the challenges, opportunity and future research directions for the development of breathalyzers using other graphene derivatives/SMO binary nanocomposites.
Results: On the basis of these analyses, graphene and its derivatives/metal oxides based binary nanocomposites have been a choice for gas sensing material owing to their high electrical conductivity and extraordinary thickness-dependent physicochemical properties. Moreover, the presence of oxygen vacancies in SMO does not only alter the conductivity but also accelerates the carrier transport rate and influence the adsorption behavior of target analyte on the sensing materials. Hence researchers are exploring the search of ultrathin graphene and metal oxide counterpart for high sensing performances.
Conclusion: Their impressive properties compared to their bulk counterpart have been uncovered towards sensitive and selective detection of biomarkers for its use in portable breathalyzers.