The new interdisciplinary technology approach, developed and tested by researchers in Spain, France and Italy with funding from the European Commission’s FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST programme, will ultimately lead to electronic noses based on natural olfactory receptors that could be used not only in healthcare but also in agriculture, industry, environmental protection or security.
“The potential uses of smell technology are endless,” notes Josep Samitier, the coordinator of the SPOT-NOSED project that developed nanobiosensors to mimic the way human and animal noses respond to different odours.
This new nose biosensor is unusual in how it’s made. By placing a layer of proteins that constitute the olfactory receptors in animal noses on a microelectrode and measuring the reaction when the proteins come into contact with different odorants, the system is capable of detecting odorants at concentrations that would be imperceptible to humans.
“Our tests showed that the nanobiosensors will react to a few molecules of odorant with a very high degree of accuracy. Some of the results of the trials surpassed even our expectations,” Samitier says. These tiny bioelectronic sensors, he says, represent a ‘major leap forward’ in smell technology and a clear example of a biomimetic devices obtained by converging Nano-Bio-Info technologies.
Several hundred different proteins, which the SPOT-NOSED researchers genetically copied from rats and grew in yeast, would be needed for an electronic nose to detect almost any smell because different proteins react to different odorants and it is the resultant combination of reactions that identifies a certain smell. Nanotechnology makes such an electronic nose feasible, the coordinator notes, even though the human nose uses 1,000 different proteins to allow the brain to recognise 10,000 different smells.
While the SPOT-NOSED project focused on replicating the physical reaction that takes place in animal noses, the project partners are now planning to continue their research and develop the instrumentation and software tools necessary for an electronic nose to recognise smells – the role played by the brain in the olfactory system. In this sense, new high accuracy electronic instrumentation capable of performing electrical measurements at the nanoscale level has been developed and adapted to an atomic force microscope with atofarad precision (10-15).
This, Samitier says, could lead to medical applications to diagnose organ failure, bacterial infections or diseases such as cancer being made commercially available within a few years, as well as devices that would have a major impact on other sectors. A major challenge of these new diagnostic tools lies in the establishment of a precise odorant disease signature, understood as the mix of volatile compounds whose concentration in a body fluid (i.e. urine, blood, pus, etc) or in the breath varies in patients with the malignancy with respect to healthy individuals. Moreover, smell technology could, for example, be used to detect rotten food, test cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, identify pollutants or scan for drugs and bombs at airports, replacing chemical sensors that are only able to detect a single substance.
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University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
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Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
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Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
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17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences