Check this out for further reading on the subject:
(sorry for partially hijacking the thread, but this info shows that it wouldn´t be to difficult to copy smells)
A natural, essential oil may contain as many as 300 different compounds. The vast majority do not contribute to the odour, and those that do may be present in very low concentrations. Modern analytical techniques enable chemists to separate an essential oil into its individual components and identify the key odorous chemicals. Spectroscopic techniques allow chemists to deduce the molecular structures of these chemicals.
Figure 3.1a. Headspace apparatus.
Armed with this information, organic chemists make nature identical molecules or analogues. Perfumers use these to blend and recreate the odour of the essential oil, but at a fraction of its cost.
The main techniques currently used are:
* gas-liquid chromatography (GC)
* high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
* mass spectroscopy (MS)
* infra red spectroscopy (IR)
* nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR)
The chromatographic techniques separate the components while the spectroscopic techniques give information about molecular structure. The perfumers nose is the ultimate sensor for detecting the presence of an odour.
Figure 3.1b. Analysing the headspace of a daffodil in the field.
3.1 Headspace analysis
There are some natural materials, with potentially useful odours, that chemists cannot obtain in sufficient quantities for extraction, even on a laboratory scale. Flowers and fruits are common examples. In addition, the extraction process may give a material whose fragrance does not reflect that of the original source. In these cases headspace analysis is an exceptionally useful technique (figure 3.1).
How is it done?
In headspace analysis the flower, for example, is enclosed in a container connected to a filtered air inlet and an outlet. The outlet has a trap to collect the odorous, volatile molecules given off by the flower and a pump to draw the air and odorous molecules through. When enough of the odour molecules have been collected, the trap is removed and the molecules set free by heating or using a solvent. The analytical chemist and perfumer then analyse the mixture produced by GC-MS and GC-sniffing.
The tuberose belongs to the same family of flowers as the daffodil and lily. It has a distinctive fragrance and has been a prized fragrance ingredient since ancient times. Quest scientists in collaboration with a perfumer have used the headspace technique to analyse the fragrance of the flower and have recreated its key character from relatively inexpensive materials.