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Chapter 4
Electronic Nose and Electronic Tongue
Nabarun Bhattacharyya and Rajib Bandhopadhyay
Human beings have five senses, namely, vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.The sensors for vision, hearing and touch have been developed for several years.The need for sensors capable of mimicking the senses of smell and taste have beenfelt only recently in food industry, environmental monitoring and several indus-trial applications. In the ever-widening horizon of frontier research in the fieldof electronics and advanced computing, emergence of electronic nose (E-Nose)and electronic tongue (E-Tongue) have been drawing attention of scientists andtechnologists for more than a decade. By intelligent integration of multitudes of technologies like chemometrics, microelectronics and advanced soft computing,human olfaction has been successfully mimicked by such new techniques calledmachine olfaction (Pearce et al.2002). But the very essence of such research anddevelopment efforts has centered on development of customized electronic noseand electronic tongue solutions specific to individual applications. In fact, researchtrends as of date clearly points to the fact that a machine olfaction system as versa-tile, universal and broadband as human nose and human tongue may not be feasiblein the decades to come. But application specific solutions may definitely be demon-strated and commercialized by modulation in sensor design and fine-tuning the softcomputingsolutions.Thischapterdealswiththeory,developmentsofE-NoseandE-Tongue technology and their applications. Also a succinct account of future trendsof R&D efforts in this field with an objective of establishing co-relation betweenmachine olfaction and human perception has been included.
4.1 Electronic Nose (E-Nose)
E-Nose is an instrument, which mimics the sense of smell of biological system.Basically, this device is used to detect and distinguish complex odor at low cost.In the parlance of food and agro produces, human expert panel and conventional
N. Bhattacharyya (
)Center for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC), Kolkata 700091, West Bengal, Indiae-mail: nabarun.bhattacharya@cdackolkata.in73S.N. Jha (ed.),
Nondestructive Evaluation of Food Quality
,DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-15796-7_4,
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010
74 N. Bhattacharyya and R. Bandhopadhyay
analysis techniques such as Gas Chromatography (GC), High Performance LiquidChromatography (HPLC) etc, characterize aroma of any substance. Both techniqueshave some difficulties. In case of human expert panel, it is a costly process since itrequires trained people who can work for only short period of time. Also addi-tional problems such as subjectivity of human response to odors and the variabilitybetween individuals are to be considered. On the other hand, the analytical instru-ments for characterization of aroma involve high cost and require knowledgeablepeople to operate those instruments, elaborate sample preparation and long time foranalysis. E-Nose provides a low cost, non-invasive and rapid method of objectivearoma measurement.
 4.1.1 Nose in Biological System
Odours are sensations that occur when compounds (called odorants) stimulatereceptors located in the olfactory epithelium at the roof of nasal cavity. Odorantsare hydrophobic, volatile compounds with a molecular weight of less than 300 Da.Humans can recognize and distinguish upto 10,000 different substances on the basisof their odour quality. Odorant receptors (OR) in the nasal cavity detect and discrim-inateamongthesethousandsofdiversechemicaltraces.Theolfactoryregionofeachof the two nasal passages in human is a small area of about 2.5 cm
containing intotal approximately 50 million primary sensory receptor cells.The olfactory region (Fig.4.1) consists of cilia projecting down out of the olfac-tory epithelium into a layer of mucous which is about 60
m thick. This mucouslayerisalipid-richsecretionthatbathesthesurfaceofthereceptorsattheepithelium
Olfactory bulbOlfactory nerveOlfactory tractBoneSensorycellsEpithelial cellsVolatile molecules
Fig. 4.1
Biological olfactory system
4 Electronic Nose and Electronic Tongue 75
surface. The mucous layer is produced by the Bowman’s glands which reside in theolfactory epithelium. The mucous lipids assist in transporting the odorant moleculesas only volatile materials that are soluble in the mucous can interact with theolfactory receptors and produce the signals that our brain interprets as odor. Eacholfactory receptor neuron has 8–20 cilia that are whip-like extensions 30–200
m inlength. The olfactory cilia are the sites where molecular reception with the odorantoccurs and sensory transduction (i.e., transmission) starts.Researchers in olfactory study have shown that every neuron in the olfactorybulbs participates in the generation of olfactory perception. In other words, thesalient information about the stimulus is carried in some distinctive pattern of bulbwide activity and not in a subset of specific neurons. In the absence of a stimu-lus, the pattern of activity across the olfactory bulb has “chaotic” characteristics.However, upon receiving a stimulus the chaotic behavior rapidly assumes a cross-bulbar pattern. This pattern need not be the same each time for the same odour, butmay change its characteristics depending upon the previous stimulus. This systemallows for odorant conditioning, and also explains how we can be sensitive to odourswe have never previously experienced.
 4.1.2 Odour Receptor and Odorant Relationship
An individual odorant can bind to multiple receptor types and structurally differentodorantscanbindtoasinglereceptor.Specificpatternsofactivationgeneratesignalsthat allow us to discriminate between the vast numbers of different smells. Thephysicochemical attributes of odorants that induce specific odour sensations are notwell understood yet.Odorants vary widely in structure and include many chemical classes includ-ing organic acids, alcohols, aldehydes, amides, amines, aromatics, hydrocarbons,nitrides, phenols etc. to state a few. The signals induced by the interactions of odor-ants with OR’s in the olfactory epithelium are transmitted to the olfactory bulb andultimately to the brain. Most odorant sensations are produced by mixtures of hun-dreds of odorants rather than by a single compound. Human have limited capacity toidentify single odorants in mixtures with three to four components being maximum.Odour classification scheme based on adjective descriptors has been standardizedby American Society for Testing and Materials and some of the sample vocabularyused are given in Table4.1.
Table 4.1
Some samples of ASTM descriptive categories used for general odour qualitycharacterizationFragrant Floral Chemical Eggy MetallicSweety Cheesy Varnish Fermented fruit MaltyFruity (citrus) Beery Sour milk Chalky WoodyEucalyptus Chocolate Strawbery Maple FishySoapy Molasses Urine-like Nutty AromaticGarlic Cologne Clove-like Fried fat Burnt, smoky

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