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Fascinated with natures superb engineering feats, scientists and engineers are always on the run to replicate natural engineering. The sensory organs of the human body are five such great feats of natural engineering. Amongst these, the human nose has inspired scientists to develop an electronic nose (e-nose) that will be more impartial, versatile and cost-effective to diagnose anything in daily life to extra-ordinary situations. An electronic nose (e-nose) is a device that identifies the specific components of an odor and analyzes its chemical makeup to identify it. Electronic sensing refers to the capability of reproducing human senses using sensor arrays and pattern recognition systems. Electronic noses consist of three major parts, namely, a sample delivery system, a detection system and a computing system. The sample delivery system injects the headspace (volatile compounds) into the detection system, which is the reactive part of the instrument. Combining the signals from all the sensors the computing system gives a smell-print of the chemicals in the mixture that the e-nose recognizes. Electronic noses were originally used for quality control applications in the food, beverage and cosmetics industries. Current applications include

detection of odors specific to diseases for medical diagnosis, detection of pollutants and gas leaks for environmental protection and many others.

The concept of e-noses - electronic devices which mimic the olfactory systems of mammals and insects - is very intriguing to researchers involved in building better, cheaper and smaller sensor devices. A better understanding of the reception, signal transduction for and odour recognition with mechanisms mammals, combined

achievements in material science, microelectronics and computer science has led to significant advances in this area. Many researchers aim for the development of sensors or sensor systems, which are similar or comparable to the human sensory system. Of all the human sensory systems, olfaction is the least understood in terms of the primary receptor mechanism and biological transduction. It is difficult to describe a set of reference odours that describe the olfactory input. A high degree of signal processing takes place in the olfactory system so that compounds of similar chemical structure can give completely different olfactory responses. That is the reason why the understanding of the olfactory system is relatively poor. The situation is comparable in the case of gustation. Nevertheless, there are many practical 2






human-made applications patterned on natural phenomena.

qualitative objective recording of odours or taste. Electronic Nose is a smart instrument that is designed to detect and discriminate among complex odours using an array of sensors. An electronic nose consists of a mechanism for chemical detection, such as an array of electronic sensors, and a mechanism for pattern recognition, such as a neural network. Electronic noses have been around for several years but have typically been large and expensive. Current research is focused on making the devices smaller, less expensive, and more sensitive. The smallest version, a nose-on-a-chip is a single computer chip containing both the sensors and the processing components. An odour is composed of molecules, each of which has a specific size and shape. Each of these molecules has a correspondingly sized and shaped receptor in the human nose. When a specific receptor receives a molecule, it sends a signal to the brain and the brain identifies the smell associated with that particular molecule. Electronic noses based on the biological model work in a similar manner, albeit substituting sensors for the receptors, and transmitting the signal to a program for processing, rather than to the brain. Electronic noses are one example of a growing research area called biomimetics, or biomimicry, which involves

Electronic noses consist of three major parts, namely, a sample delivery system, a detection system and a computing system. Sensors are the building blocks of e-nose. The detection system consists of a sensor set. Most of the e-noses use sensor arrays that react to volatile compounds on contact. Electronic noses use 32 tiny sensors, which together are about the size of a human nose. The most complicated parts of electronic olfaction process are odour capture and associated sensor technology. Any sensor that responds reversibly to chemicals in gas or vapour phase, has the potential to be participate in an array of sensor in an electronic nose. The types of sensors used and how these are made and used in the instrument is what really differentiates the instruments on the market today, but each manufacturer uses its own proprietary sensor technology. The more quartz commonly used sensors include metal-oxide semiconductors, conducting polymers, crystal microbalance, surface acoustic wave and field-effect transistors. In recent years, electronic noses have been developed that utilize mass spectrometry or ultra-

fast gas chromatography as detection system. Sampling and sensor array improvements will increase the sensitivity of detection. Metal-oxide sensors demonstrate good sensitivity to organic vapours for a very broad range of chemical compounds. However, sensors made of conducting polymer resins are generally used instead of metal oxides because these have an inherent charge or base resistance, which changes as volatile







adsorption of volatile compounds on the sensor surface causes a physical change of the sensor. A specific response is recorded by the electronic interface transforming the signal into a digital value. Recorded data is then computed based on statistical methods. The computing system works to combine the responses of all the sensors, to represent the input for data treatment. Combining the signals from all the sensors gives a smell-print of the chemicals in the mixture that neural network software built into the e-nose can learn to recognize. The e-nose recognizes and identifies these patterns. This part of the instrument performs global fingerprint analysis and provides results and representations that can be easily interpreted.

components are absorbed onto the surface of the conductive polymers. Due to their poor selectivity all sensors can respond to a single volatile compound but in different magnitudes. Hence, sensor arrays must be employed.

The sample delivery system enables the generation of the headspace (volatile compounds) of a sample, which is the fraction analysed. The system then injects this headspace into the detection system of the electronic space. The sample delivery system is essential conditions. The detection system, which consists of a sensor set, is the reactive part of the instrument. When in contact with volatile compounds, the sensors react, which means these experience a change of electrical properties. Each sensor is sensitive to all volatile molecules but in a specific way. Most of the electronic noses use sensor arrays that react to guarantee constant operating

NASA is developing the Electronic Nose, or ENose for short, which can learn to recognize almost any compound or combination of compounds. Onboard the space station, astronauts are surrounded by ammonia. It flows through pipes, carrying heat generated inside the station (by people and electronics) outside to space. Ammonia helps keep the station habitable. Ammonia is just one of about forty or fifty compounds necessary on

the shuttle and space station, which cannot be allowed to accumulate in a closed environment as it is poisonous. Ammonia becomes dangerous at a concentration of a few parts per million (ppm). Humans, though, can't sense it until it reaches about 50 ppm. Humans can't sense it until its concentration becomes high. So astronauts need better noses! They need a sensitive device, which will run continuously and autonomously, and is the first instrument on station that will detect and quantify chemical leaks or spills as they happen.

The e-nose is now in its third generation. The firstgeneration e-nose was tested during a six-day demonstration on the STS-95 shuttle mission in 1998. That prototype could detect 10 compounds but could not analyze data immediately. The second-generation ENose could detect, identify and quantify 21 chemical species. It was extensively ground-tested. The third-generation enose includes data-analysis software to identify and quantify the release of chemicals within 40 minutes of detection. While it will look for 10 chemical species in this six-month experiment, the new enose can be trained to detect many others.

ENose uses a collection of 16 different polymer films. These films are specially designed to conduct electricity. When a substance -- such as the stray molecules from a glass of soda -- is absorbed into these films, the films expand slightly, and that changes how much electricity they conduct. Because each film is made of a different polymer, each one reacts to each substance, or analyte, in a slightly different way. And, while the changes in conductivity in a single polymer film wouldn't be enough to identify an analyte, the varied changes in 16 films produce a distinctive, identifiable pattern.

The e-nose is best suited for matching complex samples with subjective end points such as odour or flavour. It can match a set of sensor responses to a calibration sat produced by the human taste panel or olfactory panel routinely used in food science. The e-nose is especially useful when consistent product quality has to be maintained over long periods of time, or when repeated exposure to a sample poses health risk to human olfactory panel. Although it is also effective for pure chemicals, conventional methods are often more practical. Before an electrical fire breaks out, increasing heat releases a variety of signature molecules. Humans can't sense


them either until concentration becomes 5

high. Electronic nose can detect those molecules at less concentration. It even detects chemicals such a and formaldehyde, methanol. Electronic nose can monitor the air in spaceships, submarines and factories to warn people very early if something is making the air unsafe to breathe. It can be used in food processing to identify the first signs that something is beginning to spoil. With some modifications, an e-nose could be used to check for gas buildups in offshore oilrigs. Sanitation workers would benefit by knowing if any poisonous gases have collected down in the sewers. mercury, ammonia

cancer but also diabetes patients who've breathed onto it. 5. Scientists have found a way of diagnosing TB by smelling breath. It uses artificial intelligence to identify the TB smell. 6. Scientists electronic have nose developed that can an help

hospitals detect the superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Generally, tests for MRSA take days to complete, making it difficult to manage outbreaks, but the e-nose can apparently detect the infection within minutes. 7. Electronic nose is being used to look for early signs of pneumonia in intensive-care patients.

1. Electronic nose is used to sniff out bacteria lurking in the blood. 2. Electronic nose could be used to sniff the Cancerous Tissues. 3. In some parts of the body (the brain particularly), cancerous tissues can be difficult to identify even with the scans. That's where the e-nose comes in to indicate which part, exactly, has cancerous tissues. 4. Reportedly, the e-nose was already able to diagnose not only lung

Electronic noses can learn to recognize almost any compound or combination of compounds even at very low concentrations. Engineers are working on a standalone version of e-noses. This e-nose will

have polymer films, a pump to pull everything in the air through the device, computers to analyse data and the energy source in one package. Japanese electronics giant Sharp is looking at ways to incorporate the e-sensing technology in its microwave ovens. The technology would allow the ovens to shut off automatically when these begin to detect chemicals associated with overcooked food. On the disadvantageous side, it could detect small amounts of harmless odours. Electronic noses making use of alternative

cycle. However, the e-noses based on nanowire mats are too primitive yet even in comparison to the simplest of insects olfaction.

Despite its advantages, the e-nose is susceptible to the occasional sneeze. Too much gas overloads the sensors. If there is too much gas, the sensors overreact. Sometimes you have to dilute the odor. It also has to be aired between tests. Once you have done one test, you need to air out the electronic nose to avoid crossing two different bacteria and getting confused results. The olfactory system of even the simplest insects is so complex that it is still impossible to reproduce it at the current level of technology. The biological reporters are regularly replaced during the lifetime of mammals in a very reliable way so the receptor array need not be recalibrated. Therefore the performance of existing artificial electronic nose devices is much more of dependent aging a on timely which to replacement frequently sensors,

technologies like DNA and nanotechnology are being developed. Single-stranded DNA can be used to identify explosives and other airborne compounds. Scientists have found a way to quickly identify which DNA sequences are ideal for detecting a particular odour and turn the dried DNA into odour detectors. This new platform could be used to create a wide array of sensors using existing high-throughput molecular-biology equipment. Nanotechnology is seen as a key in advancing enose devices to the level of the olfactory systems developed by nature. Nanowire chemiresistors are seen as critical of elements e-noses. in the future miniaturization Single-crystal



nanowires are considered to be the most stable sensing elements that will result in extending the lifetime of sensors and therefore the recalibration

account for change. Current electronic nose devices based on metal-oxide semiconductors or conducting

polymers that specifically identify gaseous odourants, are typically large and expensive. These are thus unsustainable for use in micro- or nano-arrays that could mimic the performance of the natural olfactory system. With the present state of technology, e-noses dont come cheap (approximately Rs.6 million) and are about the size of two desktop PCs. It is hoped that with the development of better, cheaper and smaller sensor devices in the future, the size and cost of e-noses will reduce and their applications will become more versatile and common.

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It's not foolproof yet. It is not yet ready to be given to a hospital and have it used to diagnose a patient. Only preliminary tests have been done with it so far. It still needs to pass FDA approval. Even though the e-nose is in its early days, Scientists are confident that it will become a mainstay in labs within the next ten years. The e-nose may also have practical applications in future devices such as smart fridges.