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The term “electronic nose” describes several sensor technologies that have been developed to detect chemical and biological agents of interest in the vapor phase. Many researchers have applied these devices to various fields of human interest, including medical diagnosis and quality control monitoring in the food and beverage industry. The escalation of homeland security concerns has spurred the development of electronic noses that have the potential to effectively detect chemical and biological agents, and toxic industrial compounds at sub-lethal concentrations.


LLNL has developed a compact and low-power cantilever-based sensor array, which has been used to detect various vapor-phase analytes. For further information on the latest developments, see the article "Sniffing the Air with an Electronic Nose."


This invention can provide a solution for chemical detection in a miniaturized, low-power device that requires no consumables. LLNL’s device has been designed to be robust and operational in harsh chemical or environmental conditions.

Potential Applications

Potential applications would benefit pipeline operations, personal equipment, and environmental and health monitoring.

Development Status

The sensor array has been used to reproducibly detect over fourteen chemical vapors including two chemical agents representing a breadth of chemical properties, in real time and over a wide range of vapor concentrations. The sensor is currently approximately 1.5”x1.5”x3.0” including transducers and circuits and when fully powered and acquiring data consumes 750 mW of total power. The device uses a laptop for power and data analysis (over USB) but can be modified to operate autonomously or with a personal data assistant (PDA).

U.S. Patent 8,762,075

Reference Number