Interdisciplinary research concept
In contrast to “naive” sensors, a joint approach as described before, imposes a total shift of concepts: the human evaluation of a sensory perception is included in the design of the sensor device. For example, artificial noses can detect the presence of a specific molecule if it belongs to a restricted set. However, humans can even identify infectious diseases in body-odor of others without being aware of the specific molecular composition. Using the output data of the “artificial nose” and human sensory impressions simultaneously, we aim at training the “olfactory machine” in order to correlate the final decision between the two inputs, sensor and the human. This approach will enable new (and more mature) types of sensors, or rather perceptors, which can be helpful, for instance, in the development of tools for an olfactory-based detection of illnesses in patients, or narcotics.
To achieve such a paradigm shifting platform, we will establish a research group in which PhD students will be trained and work within the intersecting fields of expertise of the highly interdisciplinary group of supervisors. The anticipated qualification concept for the students entails establishing coworking spaces outside of the existing lab structure to enable cooperation on interdisciplinary projects and out of the box thinking. A dedicated and joint lecture/seminar on sensorics and perception is also part of the curriculum. The main concept of perceptronics applies to all sensory systems of a human. In this particular project, we specifically focus on olfaction, which is an evolutionary old and well-defined chemosensing system.