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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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(p.160) Chapter 17 Chemosensation
Living machines

Tim C. Pearce

Oxford University Press

Olfaction in animals still surpasses any technological solution to chemical sensing yet conceived. While certain classes of molecular detection technologies may be capable of high sensitivity to a restricted number of compounds, unique to the biological system is its astonishing dynamic range (over 10 orders of magnitude), combining both extreme levels of sensitivity to certain key compounds of behavioural importance and varying levels of discrimination between an almost infinite variety of ligands, presented both individually and in complex combinations. For over 30 years the olfactory system of insects and mammals has provided biological sensing factors, rich inspiration, and processing principles for use in developing chemical sensing technologies. Here we focus on three such technological translations: recent rapid progress in measuring directly from olfactory binding/receptor proteins and chemosensory neurons as a biohybrid solution to chemical sensing; olfactory system based processing principles and architectures that have been applied to existing chemosensor technologies to achieve real-world sensing performance gains; and full-blown neuromorphic implementations of the olfactory pathways of animals.

Keywords:   chemosensation, olfaction, molecular detection, olfactory receptors, sensor processing principles

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