- Low-cost, portable, paper-based sensor incorporated into smart labels detects food and cosmetic spoilage and contamination
- All the reagents needed for detection are already incorporated into the paper
- Paper-based sensors can one day be incorporated into smart labels
Food and cosmetic spoilage and contamination can be detected with a low-cost, portable, paper-based sensor with easy-to-read results, reveals a new study.
The research team presented their results at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The meeting was held at ACS, which is the world's largest scientific society and featured around 9,400 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
‘Sensors could one day be incorporated into smart labels and can aid consumers to detect spoilage and contamination easily.’
New Technology Developed Detects Food and Cosmetic Spoilage
Silvana Andreescu, Ph.D. said, "I've always been interested in developing technologies that are accessible to both industry and the general population."
She also said that the lab had a versatile sensing platform and included all the needed reagents for detection in a piece of paper. Simultaneously, it was also adaptable to different targets such as food contaminants, antioxidants and free radicals that indicate spoilage.
The nanostructures used to catch and bound to the compounds is what sets Andreescu's sensors apart from others.
Many of the scientists who worked on similar sensors used solutions that migrated on channels. Whereas, Andreescu and team used stable, inorganic particles which are redox active. When these compounds interact with the substances that are to be detected, they change color and how concentrated the analyte is known by the intensity of the change.
Also, users don't have to add anything apart from the sample being tested, as all of the reagents needed to operate the device have already been incorporated in the paper.
Unique Antioxidant "Fingerprints"
The potential applications are wide-ranging, and much of Andreescu's sensor work so far focused on detecting antioxidants in both tea and wine.
Andreescu and her colleagues, who are at Clarkson University have found that these products have unique antioxidant "fingerprints," which can be used for authentication purposes.
In search of natural sources of antioxidants, the research team can also use the portable sensor while exploring remote locations like the Amazon rainforest.
Recently, Andreescu extended her work to wipe out food contamination and environmental pollutants.
a fungal toxin that is commonly found in a wide range of products like cereals and coffee can be spotted with one sensor prototype. This direction could be expanded further to look for salmonella and E. coli,
Now, Andreescu and her team are taking the work yet into an another direction by developing paper-based devices, which would change color as cosmetics and food go bad. As the products age and spoil, these sensors bind to the reactive oxygen species.
Testing this application is still ongoing, and one day this technology would be incorporated into smart labels, which would tell consumers when to throw away the product, said Andreescu.