Monday, April 11, 2022

Another Step Towards Artificial Olfaction

Artificial recreation of smells using a multicomponent olfactory display
Apr 2022,

Twenty odor components were extracted using the mass spectra of 185 essential oils. The sensory test for seven typical essential oils revealed that their scents could be successfully replicated. The researchers mimicked a variety of smells simply by adjusting the mixture composition of various odor components. The odor components ejected from microdispensers were blended at the surface of the surface acoustic wave device. 

The 7 odors are lemon, palmaloza, carrot seed, elmi, lavender, chypre, and mentha arvensis. (And note these are essential oils, not individual molecules.)

There is still no formula for primary smells in the same way that we have the 3 primary colors of red, blue, and yellow/green. This is an advance nonetheless - 7 molecules are used to create 185 odors.

For reference, the Davnieks set has 146 descriptors; although it was made in 1985, it still represents a fair sampling of all the smells you might encounter in a day (see here for a more sophisticated description of this set and its shortcomings). 

via Tokyo Institute of Technology: Masaaki Iseki et al, A Study of Odor Reproduction Using Multi-component Olfactory Display, IEEJ Transactions on Sensors and Micromachines (2022). DOI: 10.1541/ieejsmas.142.63

Image credit: Dimensionality reduction: Each dot represents a point in the original space that corresponds to a point (shown by a dot) in the lower-dimensional reduced space. Deep learning approach based on dimensionality reduction for designing electromagnetic nanostructures, npj Computational Materials, 2020. [link]

Dravnieks A. Atlas of odor character profiles. Philadelphia: ASTM; 1985.
Arctander S. Perfume and flavor chemicals (aroma chemicals). Montclair, NJ: Author; 1969.
Keller A, Vosshall LB. Olfactory perception of chemically diverse molecules. BMC Neurosci. 2016 Aug 8; 17(1):55.

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