The Loh Down On Science

Laser Sniffer

Canine on a keychain?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And a Triscuit-sized gadget that sniffs out scents like a bloodhound. Quite literally.
It’s the pet project of UC Santa Barbara’s Carl Meinhart. And it works like the nose of a dog.
Air enters a nostril-like opening. It passes over an ultrathin layer of liquid. This mimics the mucus lining inside a dog’s nose.

Scent molecules get stuck, and dissolve. But with so little liquid, the scent’s chemical signal in solution is about a million times more concentrated than it was in air. Woof! Identifying it is now is much easier. The device does this using a tiny laser.

It’s like a sniffer dog the size of a keychain! It can sniff-erentiate between nearly identical molecules.

Unlike real dogs, this "pocket pooch" doesn’t need training and never gets distracted. And it can detect everything from explosives to drugs to food contaminants--even some diseases.
Aw, what a beautiful tale called “Old Smeller.”  Except that it’s new.  You know.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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