Engineering a Better Blood Alcohol Sensor

Posted on March 6, 2007  Comments (4)

Scott McCain - Duke Student

Scott McCain Aims for Better Blood Alcohol Sensor:

If third-year engineering graduate student Scott McCain gets his way, the fight against drunk driving may soon be waged with a new, non-invasive blood alcohol sensor that could make standard blood or breath sample tests obsolete. The St. Louis native’s interdisciplinary research – a combination of engineering, physics and computer science – aims to build a small and inexpensive optical device capable of using harmless light to pass through skin and directly determine blood alcohol concentration.

“The device uses light at wavelengths at which skin essentially becomes transparent,” McCain said. “We shine a laser through tissue where it interacts with blood. By analyzing the scattered light that comes back out, we can determine much about the blood’s chemical content.”

Similar devices hold promise for determining other constituents of blood. For example, they could measure cholesterol or blood sugar in a matter of minutes, McCain said. Ultimately, the goal is to have a sensor that could report a medical reading in less than 10 seconds.

“We don’t yet know if our blood alcohol sensor will really work,” said McCain. “It wouldn’t be research if we knew what it was all about.”

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4 Responses to “Engineering a Better Blood Alcohol Sensor”

  1. Moro
    March 29th, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

    This research,if suceesful,then really helpful for cars driving safety program & also makes better clue for car accidents

  2. CuriousCat: Collegiate Inventors Competition
    April 5th, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    “A novel way to treat cancer has won the top honor at the 2007 Collegiate Inventors Competition, an annual program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation…”

  3. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Electrifying a New Generation of Engineers
    October 23rd, 2008 @ 8:20 am

    “To date, Ybarra’s programs have impacted more than 150,000 kids, and with so many programs now in place and spreading, that number increases by about 50,000 students per year…”

  4. Sean Callahan
    May 29th, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

    This is a great idea. I don’t argue the effectiveness of the equipment in place today but I do think that there is room for improvement. This is awesome…I love the idea behind it and how it works.

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