Nanotech Electronic Nose Sniffs Explosives Like Dogs

A new handheld device can sniff out vapors from explosives as well as the best-trained dogs.


( Free-Surface Microfluidics/Surface-Enhanced
Raman Spectroscopy for Real-Time
Trace Vapor Detection of Explosives)

“Dogs are still the gold standard for scent detection of explosives. But like a person, a dog can have a good day or a bad day, get tired or distracted,” said Meinhart. “We have developed a device with the same or better sensitivity as a dog’s nose that feeds into a computer to report exactly what kind of molecule it’s detecting.” The key to their technology, explained Meinhart, is in the merging of principles from mechanical engineering and chemistry in a collaboration made possible by UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies .

Results published this month in Analytical Chemistry show that their device can detect airborne molecules of a chemical called 2,4-dinitrotoluene, the primary vapor emanating from TNT-based explosives. The human nose cannot detect such minute amounts of a substance, but “sniffer” dogs have long been used to track these types of molecules. Their technology is inspired by the biological design and microscale size of the canine olfactory mucus layer, which absorbs and then concentrates airborne molecules.

Packaged on a fingerprint-sized silicon microchip and fabricated at UCSB’s state-of-the-art cleanroom facility, the underlying technology combines free-surface microfluidics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to capture and identify molecules. A microscale channel of liquid absorbs and concentrates the molecules by up to six orders of magnitude. Once the vapor molecules are absorbed into the microchannel, they interact with nanoparticles that amplify their spectral signature when excited by laser light. A computer database of spectral signatures identifies what kind of molecule has been captured.

“The device consists of two parts,” explained Moskovits. “There’s a microchannel, which is like a tiny river that we use to trap the molecules and present them to the other part, a mini spectrometer powered by a laser that detects them. These microchannels are twenty times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.”

I saw the idea for this kind of device demonstrated in a science fiction movie in 1985 in Runaway, by Michael Crichton. The device is a small, portable "sniffer robot":


(Sniffer Robot from Runaway)

In the movie, the sniffer robot was also looking for explosive agents.

Via UCSB Engineering.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/4/2012)

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 ")

Man-Made Earthquakes Now A Reality
Fracking yields unexpected increase in energy. Earthquake energy, that is.

Love That Shear Thickening Fluid Body Armor
'The pressure suit was soft ... instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...'- Larry Niven, 1966.

Zoom Contact Lenses
'You've got DreamTime technology in contact lenses?'- Niven and Barnes, 1992.

Graphene Cytobot - Cyborg Bacterial Spores May Help Astronauts
'[It] had not yet objected to being made over into a portion of an electronic system... '- Philip K. Dick, 1964.

 

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

Robot Chef Makes Thousands Of Dinners
'I got one of those new electronic cameras... and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Revault Wearable Private Cloud Is Too Vaporous
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres...'

Spacex Sticks Landing! But Neglects Lateral Forces
So close!

Lumo Projector Turns Kids Rooms Into Bradbury's Veldt
'The walls began to purr and recede... and presently an African veldt appeared...'

Ground Control Space Beer
Ninkasi Brewing Co. has its own space program.

Google Wants To Give Orders To Robot Armies
Or maybe they aren't bent on world domination.

Gestures Control Spider Robot Army
'What do you think - four spiders, one per floor?'

Hologram Protest World's First
'Their bodies were in their dwelling cells, but their telucid images filled the hall.'

SoSITE: US Pilots To Command DARPA Drone Army
'With a click of his pinky he brought up a pop-up menu, then selected *Kill Everyone*'

Asterank Database Identifies Profitable Asteroids
'Now it was a huge, charted, floating ore deposit for the entire Solar System.'

Pepper Spray Drones Do Crowd Control For Indian Police
'Basketball-sized, twelve feet up... they were there to enforce the law...'

Man-Made Earthquakes Now A Reality
Fracking yields unexpected increase in energy.

Love That Shear Thickening Fluid Body Armor
'The pressure suit was soft ... instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...'

SpiderFab Spider Robots To Weave Space Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider. How many legs wouldi you have given it?'

Zoom Contact Lenses
'You've got DreamTime technology in contact lenses?'

Kirobo The First Companion Robot In Space (Guineess)
What is your favorite companion robot? In fiction, that is.

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.