Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Electronic Nose Created To Detect Skin Vapors

Date:
July 21, 2009
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
Scientists have developed a system to detect the vapors emitted by human skin in real time. The scientists think that these substances, essentially made up of fatty acids, are what attract mosquitoes and enable dogs to identify their owners.

The functioning and devices of the "electronic nose": the vapors emitted by the hand are ionized by an electrospray and their composition analyzed in real time using mass spectrometry.
Credit: Fernández de la Mora et al./SINC

A team of researchers from the Yale University (United States) and a Spanish company have developed a system to detect the vapours emitted by human skin in real time. The scientists think that these substances, essentially made up of fatty acids, are what attract mosquitoes and enable dogs to identify their owners.

Related Articles


"The spectrum of the vapours emitted by human skin is dominated by fatty acids. These substances are not very volatile, but we have developed an 'electronic nose' able to detect them", Juan Fernández de la Mora, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Yale University (United States) and co-author of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, says.

The system, created at the Boecillo Technology Park in Valladolid, works by ionising the vapours with an electrospray (a cloud of electrically-charged drops), and later analysing these using mass spectrometry. This technique can be used to identify many of the vapour compounds emitted by a hand, for example.

"The great novelty of this study is that, despite the almost non-existent volatility of fatty acids, which have chains of up to 18 carbon atoms, the electronic nose is so sensitive that it can detect them instantaneously", says Fernández de la Mora. The results show that the volatile compounds given off by the skin are primarily fatty acids, although there are also others such as lactic acid and pyruvic acid.

The researcher stresses that the great chemical wealth of fatty acids, made up of hundreds of different molecules, "is well known, and seems to prove the hypothesis that these are the key substances that enable dogs to identify people". The enormous range of vapours emitted by human skin and breath may not only enable dogs to recognise their owners, but also help mosquitoes to locate their hosts, according to several studies.

World record for detecting explosives

Aside from identifying people from their skin vapours, another of the important applications of the new system is that it is able to detect tiny amounts of explosives. The system can "smell" levels below a few parts per trillion, and has been able to set a world sensitivity record at "2x10-14 atmospheres of partial pressure of TNT (the explosive trinitrotoluene)".

The "father" of ionisation using the mass spectrometry electrospray is Professor John B. Fenn, who is currently a researcher at the University of Virginia (United States), and in 2002 won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for using this technique in the analysis of proteins.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Pablo Martínez Lozano y Juan Fernández de la Mora. Online Detection of Human Skin Vapors. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 20 (6): 1060-1063, 2009
  2. Martínez-Lozano et al. Secondary Electrospray Ionization (SESI) of Ambient Vapors for Explosive Detection at Concentrations Below Parts Per Trillion. Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, 2009; 20 (2): 287 DOI: 10.1016/j.jasms.2008.10.006

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Electronic Nose Created To Detect Skin Vapors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721091839.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2009, July 21). Electronic Nose Created To Detect Skin Vapors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721091839.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Electronic Nose Created To Detect Skin Vapors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090721091839.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
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

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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