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Monday, October 19, 2015

Electronic noses can sniff out stinky water

While Electronic noses or biosensor, have been prepared for detecting bugs, disease and explosives, scientists are trying to extend this technology to the terrain of drinking water testing.

New bioelectronic sensor based on human 
nose developed for detecting odors. (Picture 
from: http://bit.ly/1jwluD8)
Most of us in developing countries are privileged to have water pass through many tests and purification procedures before coming to us as drinking water. But the water is hardly ever pure. The human nose can be pretty sensitive to some chemicals found in contaminated water such as, geosmin (GSM) and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB). These molecules often slip past the purification techniques. Even though they are not harmful per se, but leave a kind of earthy and musty smell respectively on top of making the water taste bad.

Testing in laboratories for these chemicals are expensive and time consuming. Thus, these biosensors based on the human nose, and be a faster way to sniff this water out. A device like this one would help water quality technicians detect contaminants quickly and on site, preventing the delay caused by lab testing.

A team of South Korean researchers has developed sensors which is coated with olfactory receptors that bind to the molecules when they are present. The very same olfactory receptor associated with the human nose in hunting these chemicals down were isolated and bound in carbon nanotubes, which light up when the molecules are present.

Tests show that the sensor is sensitive to 10 nanograms per liter of water, or 10,000 parts per trillion, less than the human nose which can detect GSM at just 5 parts per trillion, but it’s a good start. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | TECHNOLOGY VISTA]
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