Gas Sensors: Towards an Artificial Nose

  • Paolo Pelosi
  • Krishna Persaud
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 43)


The design of an artificial nose requires (a) a knowledge of the “olfactory language”, i.e. the molecular parameters of the odorants that are measured by specific receptors in the nasal mucosa; (b) the availability of gas sensors, specific, reversible and sensitive, able to convert chemical informations into electric signals.

For what concerns the understanding of odour recognition at the molecular level, it is known that specific receptor proteins, present in the olfactory mucosa, discriminate the various molecular structures on the basis of size, shape and position of functional groups: in this process the hydrocarbon part of the molecule is often very critical.

Gas sensors, based on polymers of aromatic and heteroaromatic molecules, that exhibit electrical conducting properties, can be used as specific odour detectors. Their electrical resistance varies upon interaction with several substances in the gas phase, with a specificity related both to the presence of functional groups and to the shape of the hydrocarbon part of the odorant molecule.

This characteristic, together with fast responses and high stability, make such polymers suitable for designing an artificial nose. Moreover, their organic nature would allow the synthesis of new polymers tailored for detecting particular gases or for spscific needs.


Conducting Polymer Olfactory System Molecular Parameter Poly Thiophene Odour Discrimination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paolo Pelosi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Krishna Persaud
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto di Industrie AgrarieUniversita’ degli StudiPisaItaly
  2. 2.Dept. of Physiology and BiophysicsMedical College of VirginiaRichmondUSA

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