A team of Korean scientists, under Dr. Seunghun Hong at the Hybrid Nano-Device & Nano-Assembly Lab at Seoul National University, is on track to building a functional artificial nose based on carbon nanotubes that can already detect the presence of ‘fruit flavor’ odorant molecules at single-carbon-atomic resolution. The olfactory sense has proven elusive to replicate with technology, but the potential of future devices to be able to tell how rotten something smells is incredible.
Michael Berger at Nanowerk reports:
“We have fabricated carbon nanotube-based field effect transistors (FETs), which can detect electrical potential changes around them, and then, for the first time, we successfully coated these FETs with cell membranes containing olfactory receptors which specifically bind to ‘fruit flavor’ odorant molecules,” Seunghun Hong tells Nanowerk.
Hong, an associate professor of physics at the Hybrid Nano-Device & Nano-Assembly Lab at Seoul National University, and his group, together with collaborators from Tai Hyun Park’s group at the university’s Institute of Bioengineering, have developed a strategy that overcomes the poor selectivity problem that characterized previous chemical sensors. They accomplished this by combining human olfactory receptors as a sensing element, while single-walled CNT-FETs enabled the high sensitivity of the sensors.
The team first tried to combine CNT-FETs with entire human olfactory cells but found it extremely difficult to grow these cells on FETs. When they decided instead to coat their nanotubes only with cell membranes that contained receptor proteins they got successful results.
Read on for the details at Nanowerk…
Abstract in Advanced Materials: Single-Carbon-Atomic-Resolution Detection of Odorant Molecules using a Human Olfactory Receptor-based Bioelectronic