On the nose: energy-efficient food spoilage detection

Thursday, 07 September, 2023

On the nose: energy-efficient food spoilage detection

While plenty of electronic noses, or artificial olfactory systems (AOSs), have been developed in the past, many have had limitations in terms of high energy consumption, time delays and data loss.

Now researchers have developed an energy-efficient computing-based chip with smell-sensing units that can detect food spoilage and provide real-time conditions continuously throughout the spoilage process.

The newly developed AOS requires minimal energy and integrates sensing and computing units on the same chip. It detects food spoilage by employing thin zinc oxide films that sense even very low levels of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia gases, which are high-protein food spoilage markers.

When investigators tested it during the spoilage process of chicken tenderloin, the system continuously tracked freshness scores and food conditions over time. The platform could be used for various applications by adjusting the gas-sensing materials and other parameters.

“Our artificial olfactory system is extremely energy- and area-efficient since the sensing and processing units are integrated and operate concurrently like a biological olfactory system,” said corresponding author Jong-Ho Lee, PhD, of Seoul National University.

The system is described in detail in a study published in Advanced Science.

Image credit: iStock.com/sergeyryzhov

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