Electronic-nose applications in forensic science and for analysis of volatile biomarkers in the human breath
The application of electronic-nose (E-nose) technologies in forensic science is a recent new development following a long history of progress in the development of diverse applications in the related biomedical and pharmaceutical fields. Data from forensic analyses must satisfy the needs and requirements of both the scientific and legal communities. The type of data collected from electronic-nose devices provides a means of identifying specific types of information about the chemical nature of evidentiary objects and samples under investigation using aroma signature profiles of complex gaseous mixtures containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from manufactured products and parts of the human body. E-nose analyses also provide useful qualitative information about the physicochemical characteristics and metabolic conditions of human subjects without the need for time-consuming analyses to identify all chemical components in human-derived volatile mixtures. E-nose devices are capable of providing information for a wide range of forensic applications, useful for answering many types of questions relating to past events and details of circumstances and conditions that led to criminal activities involving human subjects and the perpetrators involved. E-nose devices have been used to help locate live subjects, buried in the rubble of collapsed buildings following natural disasters, as well as hidden bodies and the human remains of victims of accidents and crimes of aggression. The noninvasive analysis of gaseous mixtures in the human breath and lungs of living and deceased individuals provides a means for identifying the existence of diseases or adverse physiological conditions of human subjects (both before death and postmortem) potentially useful in determining the cause of death, time of death, and pertinent factors contributing to lethal events such as homicides and other violent crimes.