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Faculty Research in the News

Sensing Chemicals with an Artificial Sniff

When it comes to differentiating chemicals, the nose knows best, according to molecular biologist James Broach. It is a chemical detector par excellence, with 800 receptors working in a multitude of combinations to identify about 10,000 different compounds. The 2004 Nobel Prize-winning work of researchers Richard Axel and Linda Buck clarified the once-enigmatic combinatorial process, showing that each chemical compound lights up a mix of receptors. Based on the combination, the olfactory system can identify the odorant molecule. Using that knowledge, Broach hopes to replicate that system and create powerful, durable environmental detectors.  READ MORE

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