Saturday, July 25, 2009
Electronic nose that detects skin vapours
A system to detect the vapours emitted by human skin in real time has been created by Yale University researchers and a Spanish company. The boffins believe that the substances, essentially made up of fatty acids, are what attract mosquitoes and enable dogs to identify their owners. “The spectrum of the vapours emitted by human skin is dominated by fatty acids. These substances are not very volatile, but we have developed and ‘electronic nose’ able to detect them,” Juan Fernandez de la Mora, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Yale University and co-author of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, tells SINC. The system, created at the Boecillo Technology Park in Valladoid, works by ionizing the vapours with an electrospray (a cloud of electrically-charged drops), and later analyzing these using mass spectrometry.