NEWS: Paper Based Sensor Tracks Food Spoilage and Contamination


Scientists at Clarkson University based near New York have developed a low cost, portable, paper-based smart label that can detect spoilage and contamination of food and cosmetics, and provide easy to-read results, it claims.

Researchers have built a versatile sensing platform that incorporates all the needed reagents for detection in a piece of paper. The paper is adaptable to different targets, including food contaminants, antioxidants and free radicals that indicate spoilage. Because all of the reagents needed to operate the device are incorporated in the paper, users do not need to add anything  other than the sample being tested.

 "Most people working on similar sensors use solutions that migrate on channels. We use stable, inorganic particles that are redox active," said Silvana Andreescu from Clarkson. "When they interact with the substances we want to detect, they change colour, and the intensity of the change tells us how concentrated the analyte is," she added.

The potential applications are wide-ranging. For example, much of the sensor work thus far has focused on detecting antioxidants in tea and wine, researchers said. They found that these products have unique antioxidant "fingerprints" that could be used for authentication purposes.

What makes the sensors unique, according to Dr Andreescu, are the nanostructures they use to catch and bind to compounds they are looking for. She is now focusing on the development of paper based devices which change colour when food spoils.


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