An olfactory array is a device used to detect volatilized and fluid-phase chemical compounds suspended in air, or another fluid medium.
They range widely in size and capability. The smallest varieties, approximately the volume of a cube 50µm on a side, have several hundred million chemical receptors. Olfarrays can be arbitrarily large, but rarely exceed a mass that makes them impractical to transport.
Olfarrays have a fractal architecture to maximize surface-area. A common structure is that of a Menger sponge. Turbines of the appropriate scale are spaced periodically throughout to facilitate circulation of the fluid medium. A nano/micro/macromechanical transport network removes the absorbed compounds after detection for collection or disposal.
Olfarrays, or sniffers as they are colloquially referred to, are a ubiquitous technology. Few anglenetted environments lack them, using them to sense the presence of toxins, chemical and nuclear explosives, and other threats. Most robots, vecs and cyborgs operating in an atmosphere or hydrosphere have at least one, and many biont citizens carry or wear them for sensory augmentation purposes.
Text by John Edds
Initially published on 21 June 2010.