Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Nanotech Device Mimics Dog's Nose to Detect Explosives: Inspired by the biology of canine scent receptors, UC Santa Barbara scientists develop a chip capable of quickly identifying trace amounts of vapor molecules

Concept illustration of the microscale free-surface microfluidic channel as it concentrates vapor molecules that bind to nanoparticles inside a chamber. A laser beam detects the nanoparticles, which amplify a spectral signature of the detected molecules.
Concept illustration of the microscale free-surface microfluidic channel as it concentrates vapor molecules that bind to nanoparticles inside a chamber. A laser beam detects the nanoparticles, which amplify a spectral signature of the detected molecules.

Abstract:
Portable, accurate, and highly sensitive devices that sniff out vapors from explosives and other substances could become as commonplace as smoke detectors in public places, thanks to researchers at University of California, Santa Barbara.



Nanotech Device Mimics Dog's Nose to Detect Explosives on Vimeo.

Nanotech Device Mimics Dog's Nose to Detect Explosives: Inspired by the biology of canine scent receptors, UC Santa Barbara scientists develop a chip capable of quickly identifying trace amounts of vapor molecules

Santa Barbara, CA | Posted on November 21st, 2012

Researchers at UCSB, led by professors Carl Meinhart of mechanical engineering and Martin Moskovits of chemistry, have designed a detector that uses microfluidic nanotechnology to mimic the biological mechanism behind canine scent receptors. The device is both highly sensitive to trace amounts of certain vapor molecules, and able to tell a specific substance apart from similar molecules.

"Dogs are still the gold standard for scent detection of explosives. But like a person, a dog can have a good day or a bad day, get tired or distracted," said Meinhart. "We have developed a device with the same or better sensitivity as a dog's nose that feeds into a computer to report exactly what kind of molecule it's detecting." The key to their technology, explained Meinhart, is in the merging of principles from mechanical engineering and chemistry in a collaboration made possible by UCSB's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies .

Results published this month in Analytical Chemistry show that their device can detect airborne molecules of a chemical called 2,4-dinitrotoluene, the primary vapor emanating from TNT-based explosives. The human nose cannot detect such minute amounts of a substance, but "sniffer" dogs have long been used to track these types of molecules. Their technology is inspired by the biological design and microscale size of the canine olfactory mucus layer, which absorbs and then concentrates airborne molecules.

"The device is capable of real-time detection and identification of certain types of molecules at concentrations of 1 ppb or below. Its specificity and sensitivity are unparalleled," said Dr. Brian Piorek, former mechanical engineering doctoral student in Meinhart's laboratory and Chief Scientist at Santa Barbara-based SpectraFluidics, Inc . The technology has been patented and exclusively licensed to SpectraFluidics, a company that Piorek co-founded in 2008 with private investors.

"Our research project not only brings different disciplines together to develop something new, but it also creates jobs for the local community and hopefully benefits society in general," commented Meinhart.

Packaged on a fingerprint-sized silicon microchip and fabricated at UCSB's state-of-the-art cleanroom facility, the underlying technology combines free-surface microfluidics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to capture and identify molecules. A microscale channel of liquid absorbs and concentrates the molecules by up to six orders of magnitude. Once the vapor molecules are absorbed into the microchannel, they interact with nanoparticles that amplify their spectral signature when excited by laser light. A computer database of spectral signatures identifies what kind of molecule has been captured.

"The device consists of two parts," explained Moskovits. "There's a microchannel, which is like a tiny river that we use to trap the molecules and present them to the other part, a mini spectrometer powered by a laser that detects them. These microchannels are twenty times smaller than the thickness of a human hair."

"The technology could be used to detect a very wide variety of molecules," said Meinhart. "The applications could extend to certain disease diagnosis or narcotics detection, to name a few."

Moskovits added, "The paper we published focused on explosives, but it doesn't have to be explosives. It could detect molecules from someone's breath that may indicate disease, for example, or food that has spoiled."

The fundamental research was developed through an interdisciplinary collaboration between Professors Meinhart and Moskovits, and carried out by former doctoral researchers Dr. Piorek and Dr. Seung-Joon Lee. Their project was funded in part by UCSB's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through the Army Research Office and DARPA.

####

About University of California - Santa Barbara
The College of Engineering at University of California, Santa Barbara is recognized globally as a leader among the top tier of engineering education and research programs, and is renowned for a successful interdisciplinary approach to engineering research.

The Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies at University of California, Santa Barbara is a uniquely interdisciplinary alliance of more than 150 researchers in academia, industry, and the U.S. Army that conducts unclassified, fundamental bio-inspired research in sensors, materials, biodiscovery, network science, and cognitive neuroscience. Led by the University of California, Santa Barbara, in collaboration with MIT, Caltech, the Army, and industry partners, the ICB transforms biological inspiration into technological innovation.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Melissa Van De Werfhorst

805-893-4301

Copyright © University of California - Santa Barbara

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies:

Related News Press

News and information

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Shedding light on perovskite hydrides using a new deposition technique: Researchers develop a methodology to grow single-crystal perovskite hydrides, enabling accurate hydride conductivity measurements May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Videos/Movies

New X-ray imaging technique to study the transient phases of quantum materials December 29th, 2022

Solvent study solves solar cell durability puzzle: Rice-led project could make perovskite cells ready for prime time September 23rd, 2022

Scientists prepare for the world’s smallest race: Nanocar Race II March 18th, 2022

Visualizing the invisible: New fluorescent DNA label reveals nanoscopic cancer features March 4th, 2022

Sensors

Innovative sensing platform unlocks ultrahigh sensitivity in conventional sensors: Lan Yang and her team have developed new plug-and-play hardware to dramatically enhance the sensitivity of optical sensors April 5th, 2024

$900,000 awarded to optimize graphene energy harvesting devices: The WoodNext Foundation's commitment to U of A physicist Paul Thibado will be used to develop sensor systems compatible with six different power sources January 12th, 2024

A color-based sensor to emulate skin's sensitivity: In a step toward more autonomous soft robots and wearable technologies, EPFL researchers have created a device that uses color to simultaneously sense multiple mechanical and temperature stimuli December 8th, 2023

New tools will help study quantum chemistry aboard the International Space Station: Rochester Professor Nicholas Bigelow helped develop experiments conducted at NASA’s Cold Atom Lab to probe the fundamental nature of the world around us November 17th, 2023

Discoveries

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Homeland Security

The picture of health: Virginia Tech researchers enhance bioimaging and sensing with quantum photonics June 30th, 2023

Sensors developed at URI can identify threats at the molecular level: More sensitive than a dog's nose and the sensors don't get tired May 21st, 2021

UCF researchers generate attosecond light from industrial laser: The ultrafast measurement of the motion of electrons inside atoms, molecules and solids at their natural time scale is known as attosecond science and could have important implications in power generation, chemical- August 25th, 2020

Highly sensitive dopamine detector uses 2D materials August 7th, 2020

Military

NRL charters Navy’s quantum inertial navigation path to reduce drift April 5th, 2024

What heat can tell us about battery chemistry: using the Peltier effect to study lithium-ion cells March 8th, 2024

The Access to Advanced Health Institute receives up to $12.7 million to develop novel nanoalum adjuvant formulation for better protection against tuberculosis and pandemic influenza March 8th, 2024

New chip opens door to AI computing at light speed February 16th, 2024

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project