New Sensors Could Allow Machines to Smell More Accurately Than Humans
Scientists have created a new generation of biosensors that could potentially allow machines to sniff out subtle differences in smell with more accuracy than our own human noses. From University of Manchester:
Every odour has its own specific pattern which our noses are able to identify. Using a combination of proteins coupled to transistors, for the first time machines are able to differentiate smells that are mirror images of each other, so called chiral molecules, something that has not been possible before. The human nose can distinguish between some of these molecules and the different forms of the same molecule of carvone, for example, can smell either like spearmint or caraway. Previous machines would not have been able to distinguish between the two.
The development will allow the creation of a new generation of biosensors with an acute ability to sniff out problems. These could have many industrial uses such as telling when food has gone off, and they could even be accurate enough to smell how much pollution is in the atmosphere.
A collaboration of academics from The University of Manchester and the University of Bari in Italy, have created a biosensor that utilises an odorant binding protein. The team’s findings are published today in the journal Nature Communications.
Odorant binding proteins are found in the mucus of the nose, which work olfactory receptors helping us to create our perception of smell. The team have found a method of manufacturing these proteins in quantities that would allow them to be used in biosensors.
They have developed methods to change the way the proteins react so that they can recognise different types of chemicals. Using a type of transistor incorporating these proteins the scientists were able to measure the unique changes in current as the proteins reacted to odours, and record them. This is in effect the machine smelling the odour and then sending the message, which can then be decoded.
The system is incredibly sensitive with a detection limit that approaches that of the human nose.
Adafruit has had paid day off for voting for our team for years, if you need help getting that going for your organization, let us know – we can share how and why we did this as well as the good results. Here are some resources for voting by mail, voting in person, and some NY resources for our NY based teams as well. If there are additional resources to add, please let us know – adafruit.com/vote
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.