Why is it that different elements and chemical compounds produce different scents? What exactly does make the difference?

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Why is it that different elements and chemical compounds produce different scents? What exactly does make the difference?

In: Chemistry

Why things smell the way they do is an entirely different topic, but the reason different molecules have different scents is because we have some specific group of cells called olfactory cells. There are many of these cells and each cell has many receptors for specific molecules to attach.

When the molecule attaches, to the receptor, it sends signals unique to that molecule to the brain where we can identify the smell.

So we can think of the receptors as little locks and the molecules as keys. Each lock has its own key and when we happen to “breathe in the key” it will “open the lock” (bind to the receptor and send signals to the brain).

Now what happens if a key is very similar to the one that is meant to open a specific lock? Well, in that case, that “key” or molecule can also bind to that receptor and you will recognize a scent.

I can eloborate more if you don’t understand. This is my first time answering an eli5