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Sniffing Out Uses For The Electronic Nose

Date:
March 12, 2008
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
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. Electronic noses do excel, however, at picking up so-called "non-odorant volatiles"-- chemicals that mammalian noses cannot pick up like carbon monoxide.

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.

In a new 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."

The review of research and development of digital noses , entitled "Electronic Nose: Current Status and Future Trends" is in the current issue of the journal Chemical Reviews.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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American Chemical Society. "Sniffing Out Uses For The Electronic Nose." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310094005.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2008, March 12). Sniffing Out Uses For The Electronic Nose. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310094005.htm
American Chemical Society. "Sniffing Out Uses For The Electronic Nose." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310094005.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

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