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Innovative Bio-Electronic Nose: Advanced Chemical Detection Technology

Biological olfactory systems have long been recognized for their unmatched versatility, speed, and specificity. These capabilities have made trained animals indispensable in diverse fields such as security, defense, healthcare, and agriculture. However, the reliance on animals necessitates extensive training and behavior-based communication, presenting significant limitations.

To address these challenges, researchers led by Dmitry Rinberg, New York University Langone Health, have discovered an innovative solution: the bio-electronic nose. This technology controls the capabilities of the mammalian olfactory system while eliminating the need for behavioral output. By directly reading olfactory information from the brain, this bio-electronic nose offers a highly sensitive and selective chemical detection method.

This approach involves a brain-computer interface that captures neuronal signals from an early stage of olfactory processing in awake mice. Through the integration of machine learning techniques, researchers have developed a robust chemical detector. A grid electrode array, chronically implanted on the surface of the mouse olfactory bulb, systematically records responses to a wide array of odorants and odorant mixtures across varying concentrations.

Remarkably, the bio-electronic nose matches the sensitivity of trained animals and excels in detecting odors within variable backgrounds. Furthermore, a novel genetic engineering technique enhances the sensitivity of the bio-electronic nose to specific chemical targets by modifying the abundance of particular olfactory receptors.

The stability and robustness of the system are evident, with recordings remaining consistent over several months. Additionally, the bio-electronic nose functions effectively in freely moving animals, facilitating chemical detection in real-world environments. This device outperforms current methods in stability, specificity, and versatility, setting a new benchmark for chemical detection.

Read the full paper.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Dmitry Rinberg, will join the 8th World Congress of the Digital Olfaction Society this December to share his latest research, with a talk entitled “Olfactory Perception and Order Code in the Olfactory Bulb”.

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