Tiny tubes made of carbon atoms may one day deliver medications, attack cancer cells or even measure bad breath levels, according to an expert at the forefront of the budding field.
Alexander Star, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that so-called nanotube technology is not as far in the future as many people might think.
Nanotubes are microscopic cylinders created using carbon atoms bound together in a net-like pattern.
Because they are hollow and open-ended, nanotubes can contain other molecules or act as conduits for particular atoms.
Star theorized that nanotube technology may one day allow clinicians to test for asthma by merely having patients breathe into a specially designed device.
Similarly, he told the news source that a toothbrush might eventually be constructed that would alert its user to halitosis by measuring the molecular makeup of his or her saliva.
However, technology already exists to measure bad breath. Called halimeters, these devices measure the amount of volatile sulfur compounds on exhaled air.
To eliminate these compounds, individuals with halitosis may consider using a specialty breath freshening rinse, gum or tablet.