Navigation Links
Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness
Date:2/27/2013

Millions of tons of food are thrown away each year because the 'best before' date has passed. But this date is always a cautious estimate, which means a lot of still-edible food is thrown away. Wouldn't it be handy if the packaging could 'test' whether the contents are still safe to eat? Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology, Universit di Catania, CEA-Liten and STMicroelectronics have invented a circuit that makes this possible: a plastic analogdigital converter. This development brings plastic sensor circuits costing less than one euro cent within reach. Beyond food, these ultra-low-cost plastic circuits have numerous potential uses, including, pharmaceuticals. The invention was presented last week at the ISSCC in San Francisco, the world's most important conference on solid-state circuits.

Consumers and businesses in developed countries throw away around 100 kilograms of food per person (*), mainly because the 'best before' date on the packaging has passed. That waste is bad for consumers' budgets and for the environment. Much of this wastage results from the difficulty in estimating how long food will stay usable. To minimize the risk of selling spoiled food to consumers, producers show a relatively short shelf life on their packaging.

Less than one cent

To fight food waste, producers could include an electronic sensor circuit in their packaging to monitor the acidity level of the food, for example. The sensor circuit could be read with a scanner or with your mobile phone to show the freshness of your steak, or whether your frozen food was defrosted. Researcher Eugenio Cantatore of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e): "In principle that's all already possible, using standard silicon ICs. The only problem is they're too expensive. They easily cost ten cents. And that cost is too much for a one euro bag of crisps. We're now developing electronic devices that are made from plastic rather than silicon. The advantage is you can easily include these plastic sensors in plastic packaging." The plastic semiconductor can even be printed on all kinds of flexible surfaces, which makes it cheaper to use. And it makes sensor circuits costing less than one eurocent achievable.

The very first printed ADC

The researchers have succeeded in making two different plastic ADCs (analog-to-digital converters). Each converts analog signals, such as the output value measured by a sensor, into digital form. One of these new devices is the very first printed ADC ever made. "This paves the way toward large area sensors on plastic films in a cost-effective way through printing manufacturing approaches", says Isabelle Chartier, Printed Electronics Business developer at CEA-Liten. The ISSCC rated the papers on these inventions as highlights of the conference.

Missing link

The new plastic ADCs bring applications in the food and pharmaceuticals industries within reach. A sensor circuit consists of four components: the sensor, an amplifier, an ADC to digitize the signal and a radio transmitter that sends the signal to a base station. The plastic ADC has been the missing link; the other three components already exist. "Now that we have all of the pieces, we need the integration," says Cantatore. He expects that it will still take at least five years before we can expect to see the new devices on supermarket shelves. Other potential applications are in pharmaceuticals, man-machine interfaces and in ambient intelligence systems in buildings or in transport.

Complex mathematics

Making this development was no easy task. The electrical characteristics of 'ordinary transistors' are highly predictable, while those of plastic transistors vary greatly. "All plastic transistors behave differently in the low-cost production processes at low temperatures," explains Cantatore. "That makes it much more difficult to use them in devices. You need complex mathematical models to be able to predict their behavior accurately."

The printed ADC circuit offers a resolution of four bits, and has a speed of two hertz. The circuits printed by CEA-Liten include more than 100 n- and p-type transistors and a resistance level on transparent plastic substrates. The carrier mobility of the printed transistors are above the amorphous silicon widely used in the display industry.


'/>"/>

Contact: Eugenio Cantatore
e.cantatore@tue.nl
31-613-478-250
Eindhoven University of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. University of Minnesota invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy
2. 3 Johns Hopkins researchers recognized for medical inventions
3. 3-D RNA modeling opens scientific doors
4. Press accreditation opens for World Series of Science
5. Understanding why some people have propensity to disease
6. Major osteoporosis meeting opens in São Paulo
7. Next-generation sequencing technology opens doors to discoveries
8. Media registration opens for Neuroscience 2012, worlds largest brain science meeting
9. Cell research opens new avenues in combating neurodegenerative diseases
10. OpenStax Colleges free textbooks will save students $1 million this fall
11. Compounds shown to thwart stubborn pathogens social propensity
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Invention opens the way to packaging that monitors food freshness
(Date:2/21/2017)... LONDON , February 21, 2017 ... um 70 Millionen US-Dollar wachsen. Nach einem Gespräch mit mehr ... es einige Hindernisse zu überwinden gilt, um diese Prognose ... ... unter anderem die Mobilisierung der finanziellen Mittel für die ...
(Date:2/14/2017)... N.C. , Feb. 14, 2017  Wake Forest ... M.D., as its new chief executive officer (CEO). Freischlag ... CEO John D. McConnell , M.D., who last ... position at the Medical Center, after leading it since ... the full scope of Wake Forest Baptist,s academic health ...
(Date:2/13/2017)... Former 9/11 Commission border counsel and Special ... Kephart of Identity Strategy Partners, LLP, today releases ... "Executive Order: Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry ... "As President Trump,s ,Travel Ban, Executive Order gains more ... the travel ban, it is important that our national ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/20/2017)... ... March 20, 2017 , ... SSCI and Whitehouse Laboratories, ... INTERPHEX 2017 ! Sponsored by the Parenteral Drug Association (PDA), the New ... over 12,000 industry professionals in attendance and more than 625 exhibitors, the educational and ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... ... March 20, 2017 , ... Avexegen Therapeutics Inc., an ... it has entered into an exclusive global license agreement with Children’s Hospital Los ... Enterocolitis (rare orphan disease) as well as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... ... March 20, 2017 , ... The fourth annual Hackaday Prize ... make an extraordinary impact on peoples’ lives, launches today. Sponsored by Digi-Key ... weeks and awards thousands in cash prizes to engineers, inventors and tinkerers who “build ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... Wash. , March 20, 2017 Western ... provider of ethical review of clinical research, announced today ... Solution TM (SRS) for NIH-funded multi-site research. ... its 2,300 institution clients, WIRB has an extensive background ... our trusted status as the IRB of record for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: