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 ")

iSkin On-Body Touch Sensors
'Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand.'- John Varley, 1992.

Skin Wearable Harvests Power With Triboelectric Effect
'He had tightened the chest to gain maximum pumping action...'- Frank Herbert, 1965.

Neuroscientist Works Toward Virtual Immortality ala Clarke
'Nothing will be left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1956.

Colloidal Quantum Dots Make Spray-On Solar Cells Possible
'Black Power... you spray it on.'- Larry Niven, 1995

 

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

iSkin On-Body Touch Sensors
'Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand.'

Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'

MC10 Electronics Skin Stickers
'Every diaper... a fine copper wire…'

Super Ball Bot Tensegrity Robot For Solar System Exploration
'Each leg in turn acted as a pivot around which the creature whirled its body...'

Robot Brains Improved By Darwinian Evolution
'The new species. Evolution. The race to come after man.'

Self-Deployable Habitat For Extreme Environments
'When you buy one of them, you don't need to tie up to an electric outlet.'

Audi's Chairless Chair Lower Body Exoskeleton
'Solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'

CreoPop 3D Pen Draws In Midair
'It makes drawings in the air...'

Seattle Police Body Cams, Ala Stross, Ala Dick
'Let's hear it for the vague blur!'

Autonomous Cars Will Own Themselves
'The robot drew his cab up before Eric's modest six-room bungalow.'

Hyperloop Track Starts Next Year
All aboard!

World's First 3D Printed Villa
'It makes drawings in the air following drawings...'

Brainflight Brain-Controlled Drone
'Mr Gant, you must think in Russian. Can you do that?'

Students Control Lab Experiments Remotely Via App
'Hello, Europa... Is this your robot I'm looking at, in sector 94?'

ROBEAR Nursing Care Robot
What other robots are strong enough to carry you? Do you want them to do so?

Testing New Spacesuits In 1929 And 2015
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

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.