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 ")

Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...' - Roger Zelazny

Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Cost Effective Smart Windows To Replace Curtains?
'The polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

Autonomous Tractor Harvest-Ready
'[He] dropped the handles of the plough that was plugged into the robomule...' - Harry Harrison, 1965.

 

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

Mobility Scooters Go Offroad
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

RAMST - Robotically Assembled Modular Space Telescope
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

Terminal Snooping At Bloomberg
'The evidence began with a slowed response at her computer terminal.'

Will There Be A Digital Afterlife?
'A quick exchange of energies resulting from the relocation of discorporate states.'

ROCKY - Resistive Overload Combined With Kinetic Yo-Yo
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses..'

China Bans Self-Driving Car Testing
Innovation hits some bumps.

Robotic Lawnmower Fulfills SciFi Homeowner's Dreams
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

7-Eleven Drone Delivers Chix Sandwich And Slurpee
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Beta-Ti3Au Titanium-Gold Alloy Hardest Tissue-Compatible Metal
It needs a more science-fictional name!

Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...'

Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing
'The public preferred lectons...'

SuperMeat - Crowdfunding Pohl/Kornbluth's Chicken Little
'Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.'

Martian-Grown Food Might Be Fine
'I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.'

MARLO Robot Attempts Wave Field
'It is apparent that he will walk before his human brother.'

3RDiTEK Lifeblogging Headband Camera
'It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box.'

3D-Printed Biohybrid Is A Tissue-Engineered Robot
'The directing neurological tissue that forms the basis of the swibble is alive...'

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.