Electronic 'tongue' to ensure food quality

November 12, 2014
Electronic 'tongue' to ensure food quality

An electronic "tongue" could one day sample food and drinks as a quality check before they hit store shelves. Or it could someday monitor water for pollutants or test blood for signs of disease. With an eye toward these applications, scientists are reporting the development of a new, inexpensive and highly sensitive version of such a device in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

S. V. Litvinenko and colleagues explain that an is an analytical instrument that mimics how people and other mammals distinguish tastes. Tiny sensors detect substances in a sample and send signals to a computer for processing just as taste buds sense and transmit flavor messages to the brain. The food and beverage industry and others have started deploying electronic tongues for a range of purposes from authenticating Thai food to measuring beer quality. But existing devices are limited in how they can be used. Litvinenko's team decided to make an improved instrument that could have applications in medical diagnostics, pharmaceutical testing and environmental monitoring, as well as testing.

The researchers developed a low-cost and environmentally friendly "e-tongue" with a silicon base that could be easily incorporated into existing electronic systems of the same material. When they tested it with Armagnac, cognac, whiskey and water, they were able to establish precise signatures for each. They conclude that their work serves as a first step toward a novel tasting instrument with potentially diverse applications.

Explore further: 'Magnetic tongue' ready to help produce tastier processed foods

More information: "Might Silicon Surface Be Used for Electronic Tongue Application?" ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2014, 6 (21), pp 18440–18444. DOI: 10.1021/am5058162

Abstract
An electronic tongue concept based on 2D mapping of photogenerated charge carrier lifetimes in silicon put in contact with different liquids is reported. Such method based on intrinsic sensitivity of the silicon surface states to the surrounding studied liquids allows creation of their characteristic electronic fingerprints. To increase recognition reliability, a set of characteristic fingerprints for a given liquid/silicon interface is proposed to be recorded at different bias voltages. The applicative potential of our sensing concept was demonstrated for different spirits and water samples.

Related Stories

An electronic tongue can identify brands of beer

January 30, 2014

Spanish researchers have managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an electronic tongue. The discovery, published in the journal Food Chemistry, is accurate in almost 82% of cases.

Electronic tongues measure grape ripeness

January 5, 2014

Electronic tongues can become an ally of grape growers as they offer detailed information on the degree of grape maturity and this could improve competitiveness. The study has been carried out by researchers at the Universitat ...

'Seeing' the flavor of foods

April 11, 2013

The eyes sometimes have it, beating out the tongue, nose and brain in the emotional and biochemical balloting that determines the taste and allure of food, a scientist said here today. Speaking at the 245th National Meeting ...

Recommended for you

Scientists develop first catalysed reaction using iron salts

January 20, 2017

Scientists at the University of Huddersfield have developed a new chemical reaction that is catalysed using simple iron salts – an inexpensive, abundant and sustainable alternative to costlier and scarcer metals. The research ...

Chemists cook up new nanomaterial and imaging method

January 20, 2017

A team of chemists led by Northwestern University's William Dichtel has cooked up something big: The scientists created an entirely new type of nanomaterial and watched it form in real time—a chemistry first.

Gecko inspired adhesive can attach and detach using UV light

January 19, 2017

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers at Kiel University in Germany has developed new technology that emulates the way a gecko uses its toes to cling to flat surfaces. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, ...

Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water

January 19, 2017

Researchers at Rice University and Kazan Federal University in Russia have found a way to extract radioactivity from water and said their discovery could help purify the hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.