Sniffing out uses for the 'electronic nose'

Mar 10, 2008

Despite 25 years of research, development of an “electronic nose” even approaching the capabilities of the human sniffer remains a dream, chemists in Germany conclude in an overview on the topic. Their review of R&D on digital noses is in the current issue of ACS’ monthly journal Chemical Reviews.

In the article, Udo Weimar and colleagues describe major advances that have produced olfactory sensors with a range of uses in detecting certain odors. Electronic noses excel, for instance, at picking up so-called “non-odorant volatiles”— chemicals that mammalian noses cannot pick up like carbon monoxide.

Ideally, however, an electronic nose should mimic the discrimination of the mammalian olfactory system for smells — reliably identifying odors like “fruity,” “grassy” and “earthy” given off by certain chemicals. Until electronic noses become more selective, their roles probably will be limited to serving as valuable tools for tasks such as monitoring air quality and detecting explosives.

“The electronic nose has the potential to enter our daily life far away from well-equipped chemical laboratories and skilled specialists,” the article states. “Keeping its limitations in mind and adapted for a special purpose, this will be the future for the electronic nose for as long as the ability to smell odors rather than detect volatiles is still far away over the rainbow.”

Source: ACS

Explore further: Repeated self-healing now possible in composite materials

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

E-Noses: Testing their mettle against fly noses

Jul 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship have made a breakthrough in efforts to extend the sensory range of 'electronic noses' (e-noses) by developing a system for comparing their performance ...

An electronic nose can tell pears and apples apart

May 08, 2013

Swedish and Spanish engineers have created a system of sensors that detects fruit odours more effectively than the human sense of smell. For now, the device can distinguish between the odorous compounds emitted ...

Recommended for you

Research offers 'promise' of improved food safety

22 hours ago

The issue of food safety has rocketed up the political agenda in recent years but despite huge improvements, some concerns and problems still persist. Fears about our food are moving away from issues about ...

Metals go from strength to strength

22 hours ago

To the human hand, metal feels hard, but at the nanoscale it is surprisingly malleable. Push a lump of metal with brute force through a right-angle mould or die, and while it might look much the same to the ...

Chemists achieve molecular first

23 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Chemists from Trinity College Dublin have achieved a long-pursued molecular first by interlocking three molecules through a single point. Developing interlocked molecules is one of the greatest ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Chemists achieve molecular first

(Phys.org) —Chemists from Trinity College Dublin have achieved a long-pursued molecular first by interlocking three molecules through a single point. Developing interlocked molecules is one of the greatest ...

Metals go from strength to strength

To the human hand, metal feels hard, but at the nanoscale it is surprisingly malleable. Push a lump of metal with brute force through a right-angle mould or die, and while it might look much the same to the ...

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...