IIT Bombay students develop eNose to sniff danger

Deploying sniffer dogs to scour crowded buses and trains or a packed stadium for explosives first requires cordoning off the area which isn’t a mean task. But now there’s an easy way out, thanks to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, which has come up with a nano technology-based portable electronic nose, popularly known as eNose, to sniff out explosives from the most congested of places.
Developed by a team of 15 students and five faculty members from four different departments of IIT Bombay and funded by the office of the principal scientific adviser, government of India, the eNose will be eventually integrated into mobile phones in order to be monitored remotely .
Speaking about the technology and the mechanism at play, professor V Ramgopal Rao from the department of electrical engineering at IIT Bombay who is leading the team, said, “The eNose is a nano tech-based electro-mechanical device with specific coatings on its surface.There are minute cantilevers on the surface, its total length equivalent to the decimetre of a strand of human hair. These cantilevers act as sensors and the nano molecules present in the cantilevers bind to the vapours of explosives, thereby detecting the presence of the same.”
“The pattern recognition of various kinds of explosives like RDX and ENT is conducted using algorithms. More the variety and number of surface coatings, more efficient is the device in responding to different types of explosives and detecting them. The device is designed in such a way that it can function exactly like a human or an animal nose. It’s fitted with a pump that inhales and exhales the surrounding air,” he added.
The e-Nose can be effectively used in a moving vehicle as it draws power from vibrations. “It can be charged through surface vibrations, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy,” said professor Rao. The components used for manufacturing an electric nose cost about Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.