Jun Ye

New laser-based breathalyzer sniffs out COVID, other diseases in real-time


With each breath, humans exhale more than 1,000 distinct molecules, producing a unique chemical fingerprint or “breathprint” rich with clues about what’s going on inside the body. For decades, scientists have sought to harness that information, turning to dogs, rats and even bees to literally sniff out cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis and more. This week, scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) made an important leap forward in the quest to diagnose disease using exhaled breath, reporting that a new laser-based breathalyzer powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can detect COVID-19 in real-time with excellent accuracy.


I am a graduate student working on the direct laser cooling of Yttrium Oxide (YO). This project has pioneered many feats for diatomic molecules such as magneto-optical trapping, sub-Doppler cooling, and conservative trapping. Ongoing work seeks to further achieve higher densities and lower temperatures towards quantum degeneracy, expanding the frontiers of quantum control. I was previously an undergraduate at the University of Chicago where I studied physics and math.