The electronic nose: Sniffing out dangerous stuff so you don’t have to
In the past decade, our cell phones have evolved into multi-functional, always online digital assistants and gaming devices. Nate Lewis, Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, is working on technology that may turn your next smartphone into a bomb-sniffing, disease-diagnosing “electronic nose.”
Like a canary in a coal mine, chemical vapor sensors — or electronic noses — can sniff out chemicals that might be hazardous or undetectable by human noses. These e-noses have potential applications in public safety as bomb or toxin detectors. They could even sense diseases on a patient’s breath, providing faster diagnosis for deadly illnesses like tuberculosis and lung cancer.