Biodegradable Sensor Could Detect Food That Is Not Fresh

Monday, November 27th, 2017 | 80 Views


Researchers have developed a small and thin biodegradable sensor that could monitor the temperature of food in transit; the study has been published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal.

Micro sensors are already used in many different applications today. Sensors often contain precious metals that are harmful to both the environment and human health, deeming them unsuitable for use in food products.

The new biocompatible micro sensors are created by encapsulating a superfine, tightly wound electrical filament made of magnesium, silicon dioxide, and nitride in a compostable polymer. Magnesium is an important component of our diet, while silicon dioxide and nitride are biocompatible and dissolvable in water, and the polymer used is made from corn and potato starch.

The food industry requires sensors that are suitable for use in foodstuffs and are safe to the consumer’s health. The sensors also need to be small, robust, and flexible enough to survive in containers full of fish or other food products.

The biodegradable sensor is 16 micrometres thick, making it much thinner than a human hair (100 micrometres), and weighing less than a fraction of a milligram.

In its current form, the sensor dissolves completely in a one percent saline solution over a period of 67 days. Currently, the sensor continues to function for one day when completely submersed in water, making it sufficient in monitoring a shipment of fish from Japan to Europe, for example.

Producing biocompatible micro sensors is currently a costly and time-consuming process, but the researchers believe it will soon be possible to produce these sensors for the mass market. Thus, bridging the link between the physical and digital world, and further bringing food products into the Internet of Things.

 

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