Noses smell by picking up molecules’ vibrations

US scientists have investigated how our noses work and found that olfactory receptors can pick up molecular vibrations to distinguish between odour molecules.

Previously, scientists thought that a lock-and-key mechanism was operating between different olfactory receptors and molecules. But then, it was noted that people could smell the difference between deuterated and non-deuterated compounds, which have the same shape but different vibrational frequencies. This paper provides further support for a vibrationally-assisted mechanism for smell.

Read the ‘HOT’ PCCP paper:

Vibrationally Assisted Electron Transfer Mechanism of Olfaction: Myth or Reality?
Ilia Solov’yov, Po-Yao Chang and Klaus J Schulten
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2012, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C2CP41436H

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