Disruptive technological advancement waves in the areas of cloud, AI & IoT created a positive impact and the demand for electronic nose technology. These e-noses provide external benefits to a variety of commercial industries, agriculture, biomedical, cosmetics, environment, food & beverage, and also in various research & scientific fields. The electronic nose is an instrument that attempts to mimic the human olfactory system that has an array of chemical sensors that are designed to either detect gases or vapors. Due to continuing improvements in gas sensor technologies and falling manufacturing costs, the e-nose market is expected to reach over $17.9 Mn. by 2025. 
The instrument essentially consists of sensor arrays, pattern recognition modules, and a headspace sampling unit to generate signal patterns that are used for characterizing smells. Therefore, it can be classified into three major parts as detecting system, computing system, and sample delivery system.
The air sample is pulled by a vacuum pump and led through a tube into a smaller chamber consisting of an electronic sensor array. Then the sample delivery system first enables the generation of the headspace of samples or volatile compounds that are fractionally analyzed there and sends the samples to the detection system. The detection system consists of a group of sensors that gets in contact with the volatile compound samples and reacts with the sensors causing electrical changes. These electrical changes are digitally transmitted into the computing system for data analysis.
Commonly Used Sensors:
The digital output generated by electronic nose sensors is analyzed and interpreted and the values are shown in the display based on the results. The most important component in the construction of e-noses is the sensor and the commonly used sensors include:
- Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOSFET), where the molecules entering sensor areas will be charged positively or negatively, which will have a direct effect on the electric field inside MOSFET.
- Metal Oxide Sensors, absorb gas molecules to provoke change in conductivity, and the change is measured for the number of volatile compounds and adsorbed.
- Piezoelectric Sensors, adsorb gas molecules on the surface of the polymer that leads to the change in the mass on the sensor surface and that in-turn produces a change in the resonant frequency of the crystal.
What’s the Future?
The recent convergence of ICT and biotechnology has led to an increasing number of areas where machines take over what people used to do and the electronic nose is one such technology that’s being used in both primary and secondary care. The future is directing it towards personalized healthcare to provide non-invasive means of diagnosing and monitoring health. Nano-composite sensors and advanced pattern recognition algorithms are used in the detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and other medical conditions as well as industrial & agri-tech applications relating to quality control or contamination detection.
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