New laser could detect illness from your breath, before you get sick

Detection of illness from gases in breath is a relatively new and very exciting science. And now a new laser has been created that can read gases in the air more accurately than ever.

Soon doctors may be able to scan the air you breath out, with a Star Trek-style tricorder, and know everything about your health.

The laser was developed by scientists at Australia's University of Adelaide. The erbium-doped ziconium-fluoride-based glass fibre laser, operates in a mid-range frequency. This means it's able to detect gases more accurately than current efforts as it can produce 25 times more light than mid-range lasers manage.

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Project leader Dr David Ottaway says: "The main limitation to date with laser detection of these gases has been the lack of suitable light sources that can produce enough energy in this part of the spectrum. The few available sources are generally expensive and bulky and, therefore, not suitable for widespread use."

This breakthrough could lead to laser detection systems that find illnesses early. Currently breath testing is used to detect asthma and even lung cancer. With wearable technology and mobile health detectors growing in popularity, it's only a matter of time before Star Trek's tricorder all-in-one health detector is a reality.



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