Electronic 'nose' can sniff out toxins

Aug. 22, 2012 at 3:55 PM
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RIVERSIDE, Calif., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Researchers in California say their prototype "electronic nose" can detect small quantities of harmful airborne substances, with possible uses in many fields.

Nano Engineered Applications Inc. has created a prototype of the sensor developed by Nosang Myung, an engineering professor at the University of California, Riverside, that promises applications in agriculture, industry, homeland security and the military, a university release reported Tuesday.

The prototype portable device, at about 4 inches by 7 inches, has the potential to detect pesticide levels, gas leaks, combustion emissions and bio-terrorism and chemical warfare agents, researchers said.

"This is a really important step," Myung said. "The prototype clearly shows that our research at the university has applications in industry."

The goal now, Nano Engineered Applications President Steve Abbott said, is to shrink the device to the size of a credit card.

At that size, a multi-channel sensor would be able to detect up to eight toxins, researchers said.

The sensor is designed to be incorporated in three basic platforms, they said: a handheld device, a wearable device and in a smartphone.

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