Scientists develop a machine that can smell

How sensitive is the human nose?

Scientists have come up with a machine that can detect SMELLS more accurately than humans.

University of Manchester researchers have created a device more powerful than our very own snouts.

They say every odour has its own specific pattern, which our noses are able to identify with incredible accuracy.

But for the first time, researchers have come up with a way of enabling machines to differentiate smells that are mirror images of each other - so called 'chiral molecules'.

The human nose can distinguish between some of these molecules and the different forms of molecules such as carvone, that can smell like spearmint or caraway.

Previous machines would not have been able to tell the two apart. The development will allow the creation of a new generation of 'biosensors' with an acute ability to sniff out problems.

New machines sense when food has gone off and devices could be accurate enough to smell how much pollution is in the atmosphere.

Academics from The University of Manchester and the University of Bari in Italy have created a biosensor that uses an odorant binding protein, found in nose mucus.
 
Those proteins work receptors, helping us to smell.

The team has found a method of manufacturing those proteins in quantities that would allow them to be used in biosensors and have developed ways to change the way the proteins react so they can recognise different chemicals.

Using a type of transistor, incorporating the proteins, scientists were able to measure changes in current as the proteins reacted to odours.

In effect, the machine 'smells' odours before sending a message identifying what it is.

The system is so sensitive, it could soon surpass the power of the human nose.

The university's Professor Krishna Persaud, said: "It has been challenging to get machines to be able to differentiate between smells that are mirror images of each other, which was a real barrier to creating machines which are able to smell as well or better than humans.

"This will allow much better sensors to be developed and these could have many uses in industry.

"We shall be able to create biosensors which can tell when food has gone off, or even smell how much pollution is in the atmosphere."
 
Source: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/its-not-sniffed-at-scientists-8477165 

 

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