The electronic nose: Sniffing out the dangerous stuff to keep our noses safe

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. Caltech grad student Heather McCaig showed us around Nate's lab to give us the inside scoop on this promising technology.

So in the future, don't be surprised when you step into the doctor's office for a diagnosis and they tell you, "Did you know there is an app for that?"

Provided by the American Chemical Society

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