Novel Optical Hydrogen Detectors for the Diagnosis of Lactose Intolerance

Themes: Life Science & Health, Materials


A TRL is a measure to indicate the matureness of a developing technology. When an innovative idea is discovered it is often not directly suitable for application. Usually such novel idea is subjected to further experimentation, testing and prototyping before it can be implemented. The image below shows how to read TRL’s to categorise the innovative ideas.

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This project aims to develop novel low cost sensors for diagnosis of lactose intolerance via breath analysis. The device is able to undergo reversible change in its color when in contact with exhaled breath of people suffering from lactose intolerance.


The exhaled breath of lactose intolerance patients contain unusually high concentration of hydrogen. The proposed device comprises yttrium thin film which is able to change colour in the presence of hydrogen at concentrations relevant for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance


The device has been successfully tested in the laboratory and presently undergoing validation. The device will have huge impact on the society because it is much cheaper and simpler to use than the state of the art device for diagnosis of this ailment.

Dr. Peter Ngene


Dr. Ruud Westerwaal

Prof. Bernard Dam