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Caught a whiff of that? Researchers have developed an electronic “nose” that could someday result in chemical-detecting clothing. Peratech, a technology company in the United Kingdom, has produced a sensor capable of sniffing out volatile organic compounds and other potentially harmful emissions. Based on the company’s Quantum Tunneling Composite technology, the device comprises tiny particles that change electrical resistance when force is applied. The polymer also swells in the presence of VOCs, even at levels as low as 10 parts per million.

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Because Peratech’s device is only a few microns thick, it offers a host of potential applications, such as protective garb that alerts its wearer of toxic substances in the immediate environment. The electronic nose, which can be integrated into paper or textiles, can also monitor a person’s VOC levels through the skin as an indicator of health.

The electronic nose can alert its wearer of toxic chemicals or monitor a person’s own VOC levels.

Unlike other electronic noses, which tend towards walkie-talkie-type devices, Peratech’s sensor can be printed onto thin film. It also requires a low amount of power, which it can draw from a sewn-in battery (tucked inside a hem or seam, perhaps?) or a cellphone.

In addition to fine-tuning its product to improve selectivity and specificity, the company is also looking for partners who are interested in licensing the technology.

+ Peratech

[Via Technology Review]