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An artificial nose produced in a XNUMXD printer

An innovative gas detector, known as an 'artificial nose', enables a particularly precise analysis of odors for a variety of applications


[Translation by Dr. Nachmani Moshe]

Researchers from the University of British Columbia have succeeded in developing an extremely advanced gas detector based on a micro-flow mechanism that is capable of detecting minute traces of gases quickly and efficiently. The innovative detector should have many applications, including environmental monitoring, quality tests of food and beverages, as well as systems for biological or chemical analysis and characterization. The device, explains Professor Mina Hoorfar, is actually an 'artificial nose' capable of smelling any type of gas, including toxic substances such as natural gas, ammonia or gases emitted from the sewage system.
"Our sense of smell is one of the most important human abilities," says the lead researcher. "Our nose significantly affects our quality of life and helps us identify toxic gases in the environment, in increasing awareness of fires or spoiled food, and it also evokes memories. In light of this, there is a constant interest in developing devices capable of imitating the human olfactory system."

The tiny gas detectors include parts made with a XNUMXD printer, parts that form the microchannels and the metal oxide semiconductor material. The detectors can be connected to a sampling chamber and thus be used in laboratories. The tiny detector uses two different channels where each channel is coated with a different material. During the experiments, the researchers measured several target gases from among different groups of volatile organic compounds, including salts, ketones and hydrocarbons. The lead researcher explains that when the sample passes through the detector, the inner coating of the channel directs the gases to the appropriate detector where they are immediately detected. "The gases undergo a different chemical reaction with the coating of the canal thanks to the mechanism known as "substances dissolve in substances similar to them", explains the researcher. "Our research demonstrates that these cheap detectors can be customized for the required application while maintaining their accuracy and frequency." The technology, based on comparing two different gas detectors with channels containing special coatings that work differently after being exposed to different gases, provides the user with the ability to adjust the coating according to the required target gas.

"There are many examples of systems with high accuracy," says the researcher. "However, despite their accuracy, the size and cost of these systems limit their applicability for the detection of volatile organic compounds in several applications that require portable and simple-to-operate devices. Our devices offer a small, cheap and extremely accurate alternative. Our system has the potential to change the way local authorities and enterprises perform their monitoring measurements," explains the lead researcher.

for the scientific article

One response

  1. charming!
    I wonder what the sensitivity threshold is - less/similar/more than the nose of a human, dog, etc.
    I wonder when the software will be able to detect different chemicals, check their composition and the relationship between them - and then also tell what the smell is (for example "fried schnitzels", "herbal tea", "sewer", etc.)...

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