Caltech Electronic Nose: The Lewis Group Smells Success

The Lewis Group, at Caltech, has worked out a unique approach to the idea of an electronic nose. They use arrays of simple, readily fabricated, chemically sensitive conducting polymer films.


(Response patterns for three different solvents
on a 17 element sensor array.
)

When a polymer film is exposed to a vapor, some of the vapor partitions into the film, causing it to swell. The electronic nose detects this as an increase in the electrical resistance of the film, a value that can be quantified for each film.


(20 detector array creates pattern identifying
the vapor and concentration
)

An array of sensors that respond individually to vapors can produce a unique pattern for a given vapor mixture. Pattern recognition done on the output signals from the electronic nose can classify, identify and even quantify, the odor being investigated. The researchers claim that this response is very similar to the way that our own olfactory sense produces diagnostic patters and then sends them to the brain.

The Caltech nose has been demonstrated to detect odors in an ordinary room background; it can direct robotics to turn toward the source of the odor. Signals can be read in real-time or near real-time, because the swelling of the polymer begins immediately after exposure to the vapor.

Even better, the Caltech nose can be used over and over (just like your nose). The films return to their initial, unswollen state after the vapor source is removed; this reversibility has been demonstrated for tens of thousands of exposures.

My first exposure to the electronic nose idea was, of course, the mechanical hound of Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451 The mechanical hound could also turn and move in the direction of an odor - very quickly, it turns out, and in real-time.

The mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel back in a dark corner of the fire house...

Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house areaway. Three seconds later the game was done, the rat caught half across the areaway, gripped in gentle paws while a four-inch hollow steel needle plunged down from the proboscis of the hound...
(Read more about Bradbury's mechanical hound)

Use these links to get a snootful of additional olfactory electronics:

Read more details at the Lewis Group Electronic Nose research page; via PhysOrg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/24/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...' - EB White, 1950.

Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
''Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...' - Andre Laurie, 1895.

Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.' - Larry Niven, 1970.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Sex In Driverless Cars?
'...admirable for petting.'

Amazing Kepler Space Telescope Decommissioned By NASA
'Thus it came about that the search for a planetiferous sun... was not unduly prolonged...'

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'

Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...'

Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'

Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'

Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'

ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking
'The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...'

Exploring Oceans Across The Solar System
'Black liquid flashed past the turbotís infrared eyes.'

SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.