Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mlsna, Todd E.

Committee Member

Wipf, David

Committee Member

Zhang, Dongmao

Committee Member

Emerson, Joseph P.

Committee Member

Lathan, Patty A.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Chemistry


The ultimate goal of this research is to provide a low cost, efficient, reproducible, quantitative, non-invasive screening method to diagnose diseases at an early stage through identification of volatile biomarkers of disease. Progress has been made in the areas towards development of an analytical system that can provide a rapid and specific assay for above mentioned Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). (i) Methods have been designed for the collection, concentration, identification and quantification of volatile biomarkers. (ii) Advanced signal processing evaluation of data has tentatively identified key VOCs patterns with breath and body odor. (iii) Novel absorbent coatings have been studied for use with miniature chemical sensors that one day may be part of a portable analytical system. Both breath and body odor contain a complex mixture of chemicals, which are influenced by many internal and external factors. Breath and skin odor samples were collected with minimum external contaminations using traditional SPME and active SPME GCMS techniques. Body odor from 65 human subjects was tested with and without selected scent removal products. Breath samples were collected from 21 canine subjects. The VOCs profiles of these samples were determined and then statistically treated with principal component analysis, discriminant analysis, and tree regression techniques to simplify and interpret the complex mixtures. While much of our work has utilized large bench-top equipment, our over-arching goal is to provide a portable device that can diagnose diseases at an early stage. Concurrent work was done to enhance the performance of a miniaturized detector for the detection of potential biomarkers. Two organic polymers mixed with conductive carbon nanoparticles were deposited between the microcapacitor plates of microsensors using ink-jet technology. Microsensors were also fabricated using conducting ionic liquids. The performances of the individual chemicapacitive sensors were characterized through exposure to different concentrations of varied volatile organic compounds with different functional groups in a climate-controlled vapor delivery system.