Smell-Visualizing Colorimeter Can Fingerprint Coffee Aromas and Toxic Gases

Colors of Coffee
Colors of Coffee
A colorimeter's colorful results showing different coffee aromasUniversity of Illinois

A cheap meter can now translate the most esoteric coffee aromas into pretty colored dot patterns that anyone can recognize. The device also works like a radiation dose badge that can warn workers when they have been exposed to toxic gases, according to Sciencepunk.

The colorimeter consists simply of a card with tiny polymer film squares that hold 36 designer dye drops, and came out of the lab of Kenneth Suslick, a chemist at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Each dye pigment changes color when exposed to certain chemicals, and the combination of the 36 exposes a unique chemical fingerprint for certain aromas.

Suslick's seventeen-year-old son applied the nifty device to studying coffee aromas as well, and showed how it could differentiate burned or spoiled batches.

Perhaps the colorimeter can also reveal the chemical signature of explosives or the colorful fragrance of human fear.