Research Showcase

The greenSTEMS group includes people from many disciplines, from maths and physics to sociology and psychology. Our members, whether they are students, researchers, or staff, study a diverse range of topics surrounding the issue of sustainability. This page will showcase some of the work going on at York to spread awareness of the fascinating projects at the university!

The Science of Tomorrow: Olfactory Display Technology as an Example of Sustainable Chemistry

Our first researcher to showcase their work is Keisuke Tomono, a PhD candidate at the University of York researching green chemistry technology for odour emitting applications. His interest in smell perception started when he won a national prize: the Patent Contest, 2010, Japan.

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Education Using Smell Perception

His invention uses unpleasant stimuli to lead people to dislike particular smells (such as tobacco or drugs) which are correlated with activities like smoking which can negatively impact health. Physiological measurements including neuroimaging and skin conductance are used to monitor the process and characterise the patients’ learning stage (Fig. 1).

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For example, the airflow/odour controller (Fig. 2) releases a scent of cigarette smoke combined with a small quantity of sulphur or ammonia, smells which are offensive to most people. Viewers learn to associate the scent of cigarettes with the smell of a potentially harmful substance and so reduce their risk of acting in ways which are not beneficial for their health.

This patent is a new method for avoiding activities which are hazardous to health and is not necessarily limited to the system illustrated in Figures 1 and 2.

The full text is available from the Japan Patent Office at https://www.j-platpat.inpit.go.jp/web/all/top/BTmTopPage (please copy-paste the following keyword for the search: 香りを発する誘惑性物質の嫌忌嗜好性教育システム).

Towards Sustainability + Psychology

To find real uses for this invention, Keisuke has applied Starbons® (which is a mesoporous carbonaceous material derived from polysaccharides) as an odour carrier for capturing and releasing aromas. His recent work using this patent and Starbons®, which is currently under consideration for publication, has clearly shown that presenting smell and visual stimuli together has a synaesthetic effect on taste and appetite (p < 0.001, ANOVA statistics). This is a novel and exciting way of applying sustainable technology for use in real circumstances.

Keisuke, as a chemist, has a strong interest in the neuroscience of smell and olfaction, especially how odours (as smells) and odorants (as molecules) interact with other human senses such as vision and taste. As a future goal he wishes to create a new frontier of science between chemistry and psychology. He is very keen to collaborate with industry and share his achievements and ideas for aroma-shooting technologies.

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Keisuke Tomono completed his Bachelor’s degree at Wartburg College (Iowa, U.S.) in 2011 with a Chemistry (Biochemistry) major and Biology minor. Right after graduation, he obtained the opportunity to work as a research student at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (Japan) and University of Oxford (U.K.) in the fields of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Biology respectively, working on odours and odorants detection. He completed his MSc degree at University of York (U.K.) in 2014 with Green Chemistry studying the generation of aromas from natural products. He is currently pursuing his PhD degree in Chemistry at the same institution, researching aroma emissions using Starbons®.

His primary research interests are “olfactory display technology,” “aroma shooting technique,” “smell / visual perceptions,” “synaesthetic cross-modality of smell / vision on taste appetite” and “virtual reality (VR) using aromas.”

Contact: kt646@york.ac.uk or keisuke.tomono0829@gmail.com

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