An electronic nose that uses receptors developed from the human olfactory apparatus can detect two important chemicals present in "bad" water that give rise to unpleasant and unappealing odors - namely geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol. The system can detect these compounds, which are produced by waterborne bacteria, down to levels of just 10 nanograms per liter quickly and easily without the need for longwinded offline sample preparation and cumbersome and relatively difficult to use laboratory equipment. The water-testing device the team is developing could be a boon for testing in remote areas with limited resources. The same receptor-based approach might also have applications in the aromatic world of the perfume industry.
A bioelectronic nose for water testing