Fluid dynamics of inhalation and exhalation
All vital tasks of the nose depend critically on the airflow, which is driven by the pressure difference created by the lungs and depends on the complex geometry of the nasal cavity. We want to understand how the geometry influences the flow, so we can learn how to modify it to help treating breathing problems. However, choosing the right treatment also requires considering the other functions of the nose, like humidification, heating, and smelling. The physics of these processes can be conceptualized as the transport of passives tracers by the flow and their exchange with the walls, which are covered in aqueous mucus. We want to understand how the nasal geometry and the absorption properties of the mucus influence these processes. What nasal geometry heats and humidifies the air effectively? Where should the olfactory receptors be placed to effectively sense odorants? Does the odor percept depend on the direction of the airflow? Are humans particularly good at sensing food odors while exhaling? Insights in the physical aspects of olfaction will help to understand the evolution of the nose and to optimize the geometry and surface properties of artificial smell sensors.