|A rendering of olfactory receptor |
proteins attached to a nanotube.
(Credit: Art by Robert Johnson)
Nanotubes, far finer than a thread, can now have smell-detectors glued along them. Instead of wanting to build an artificial nose, think of measuring trace organics like smells and drugs. The detector sites are protein shapes which have been custom-tailored to plug into a particular molecule. When one hooks on, a tiny electric signal runs down the tube and can be put to work. The graphic to the left is beautiful.
Penn team, reported on by Science Daily News