Artificial snot enhances electronic nose

April 30, 2007

Researchers at The University of Warwick and Leicester University have used an artificial snot (nasal mucus) to significantly enhance the performance of electronic noses.

The researchers have coated the sensors used by odour sensing "electronic noses" with a mix of polymers that mimics the action of the mucus in the natural nose. This greatly improves the performance of the electronic devices allowing them to pick out a more diverse range of smells.

A natural nose uses over 100 million specialised receptors or sensors which act together in complex ways to identify and tell apart the molecules they encounter. Electronic noses, used in a number of commercial settings including quality control in the food industry, use the same method but often have less than 50 sensors.

This means that electronic noses can discern a much smaller range of smells than the natural nose. However the University of Warwick and Leicester University team have found a way to replicate in their electronic devices how the natural nose's mucus enhances our sense of smell.

In the natural nose the thin layer of mucus dissolves scents and separates out different odour molecules in a way they arrive at the noses receptors at different speeds/times. Humans are then able to use this information on the differences in time taken to reach different nose receptors to pick apart a diverse range of smells.

The Warwick and Leicester team found that have created an artificial mucus layer to mimic this process. They placed a 10-micron-thick layer of a polymer normally used to separate gases on the sensors within their electronic nose.

They then tested it on a range of compounds and found that their artificial snot substantially improved the performance of their electronic nose allowing it to tell apart smells such as milk and banana which had previously been challenging smells for the device.

University of Warwick researcher Professor Julian Gardner says: "Our artificial mucus not only offers improved odour discrimination for electronic noses it also offers much shorter analysis times than conventional techniques".

The final device including the sensors and the artificial mucus is contained in a relatively thin piece of plastic just a few centimeters square and costing less than five UK pounds (10 US Dollars) to produce.
-end-
The research has just been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society and the research was funded by EPSRC

For further details please contact:

Peter Dunn, Press & Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick, Tel: +44 (0) 24 76 523708 or +44 (0)7767 655860
Email: p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk

PR38 30th April 2007

University of Warwick

Related Sensors Articles from Brightsurf:

OPD optical sensors that reproduce any color
POSTECH Professor Dae Sung Chung's team uses chemical doping to freely control the colors of organic photodiodes.

Airdropping sensors from moths
University of Washington researchers have created a sensor system that can ride aboard a small drone or an insect, such as a moth, until it gets to its destination.

How to bounce back from stretched out stretchable sensors
Elastic can stretch too far and that could be problematic in wearable sensors.

New mathematical tool can select the best sensors for the job
In the 2019 Boeing 737 Max crash, the recovered black box from the aftermath hinted that a failed pressure sensor may have caused the ill-fated aircraft to nose dive.

Lighting the way to porous electronics and sensors
Researchers from Osaka University have created porous titanium dioxide ceramic thin films, at high temperatures and room temperature.

Russian scientists to improve the battery for sensors
Researchers of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) approached the creation of a solid-state thin-film battery for miniature devices and sensors.

Having an eye for colors: Printable light sensors
Cameras, light barriers, and movement sensors have one thing in common: they work with light sensors that are already found in many applications.

Improving adhesives for wearable sensors
By conveniently and painlessly collecting data, wearable sensors create many new possibilities for keeping tabs on the body.

Kirigami inspires new method for wearable sensors
As wearable sensors become more prevalent, the need for a material resistant to damage from the stress and strains of the human body's natural movement becomes ever more crucial.

Wearable sensors detect what's in your sweat
A team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, is developing wearable skin sensors that can detect what's in your sweat.

Read More: Sensors News and Sensors Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.