Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Physics

Advisor

Woodrow Shew

Committee Member

Jiali Li

Second Committee Member

Pradeep Kumar

Third Committee Member

Julie A. Stenken

Abstract

Olfactory processing in the mammalian brain is a highly dynamic process, yet most of the olfaction experiments have been studied primarily with static stimuli. Odors in the natural environment are transported by turbulent flow of air or water. Natural odorants have fluctuations in concentration and it changes rapidly with time. These rapid fluctuations may pose some challenges to identifying an odor; on the other hand, the variation itself may provide important clues about the odor source. The goal of this thesis project was to create a similar odorant environment like the rapid odor fluctuations encountered in nature – to meet this goal; we built an odor delivery and optical odor detection system. We combine visible smoke with invisible odorant to make the odorant detectable using two high sensitivity CCD line cameras. Initial tests of the system were carried out to determine the plausibility of its use in future experiments. Based on observed and quantified fluctuations of smoke and odorants, we conclude that the system is a promising tool for studying olfaction with naturalistic odorant fluctuations.

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