Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple And Inexpensive, An Artificial Nose Senses Smell By Seeing Colors

Date:
August 21, 2000
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Imagine a small slip of paper that can sniff out odors such as sour milk, illegal drugs, environmental pollutants, poisonous gases or deadly toxins simply by changing color. As reported in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Nature, chemists Kenneth Suslick and Neal Rakow at the University of Illinois have developed an artificial nose that is simple, fast and inexpensive – and works by visualizing odors.

Imagine a small slip of paper that can sniff out odors such as sour milk, illegal drugs, environmental pollutants, poisonous gases or deadly toxins simply by changing color. As reported in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Nature, chemists Kenneth Suslick and Neal Rakow at the University of Illinois have developed an artificial nose that is simple, fast and inexpensive – and works by visualizing odors.

Called "smell-seeing" by its inventors, the technique is based on color changes that occur in an array of vapor-sensitive dyes known as metalloporphyrins – doughnut-shaped molecules that bind metal atoms. Metalloporphyrins are closely related to hemoglobin (the red pigment in blood) and chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants).

"Our technique is similar to using litmus paper to determine if a solution is acid by seeing if the paper goes from blue to pink," said Suslick, the William H. and Janet Lycan Professor of Chemistry at the UI. "But we have generalized it so a whole range of chemical properties are being screened by an array of many different dyes that change color when they interact with different chemicals. The resulting changes in the array provides a color fingerprint unique to each vapor."

To create an array, the researchers paint a series of tiny dots – each dot is a different dye – on an inert backing such as paper, plastic or glass. The array is then scanned with an ordinary flatbed scanner or an inexpensive electronic camera before and after exposure to an odor-producing substance.

"By subtracting the 'before' image from the 'after' image, we obtain the color-change pattern of the odorant," Suslick said. "By comparing that pattern to a library of color fingerprints, we can quickly identify and quantify the chemical compounds present."

Smell-seeing arrays have many potential applications, such as in the food and beverage industry to detect the presence of flavorings, additives or spoilage; in the perfume industry to identify counterfeit products; at customs checkpoints to detect banned plant materials, fruits and vegetables; and in the chemical workplace to detect and monitor poisons or toxins.

The sensitivity of the arrays outshines that of their human counterparts. "The human nose is generally sensitive to most compounds at a level of a few parts per million," Suslick said. "The sensitivity of our artificial nose is 10 to 100 times better than that for many compounds."

And, unlike other technologies that are currently being explored for use as an artificial nose, smell-seeing is not affected by changes in relative humidity. "Our color-change technique is extremely insensitive to water vapor," Suslick said. "The ability to easily detect odors regardless of the humidity background is definitely a big advantage."

The researchers have applied for a patent. The research support for this work came from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Simple And Inexpensive, An Artificial Nose Senses Smell By Seeing Colors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000817080652.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (2000, August 21). Simple And Inexpensive, An Artificial Nose Senses Smell By Seeing Colors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000817080652.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Simple And Inexpensive, An Artificial Nose Senses Smell By Seeing Colors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000817080652.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Flying (Oct. 20, 2014) Watch Gulfstream's public launch of the G500 and G600 at their headquarters in Savannah, Ga., along with a surprise unveiling of the G500, which taxied up under its own power. Video provided by Flying
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins