November 2008

Food and Pharmaceuticals: Tasting the technology

A portable device that tastes, tests, and analyzes a wines vintage is now available. It can identify the grape too. It consists of six sensors that identify the ingredients that determine a specific variety of wine.

The device uses an integrated sensor that has six ion-sensitive field effect transistor, or ISFET, devices selective to common ions and heavy metals combined with a flow injection analysis system.

The system uses principal component analysis and a soft independent modeling class analogy technique for pattern recognition and classification of samples, and partial least squares regression for the quantification of parameters of interest in wine production.

Simply by pressing a button, a quality control inspector can measure the levels of acid, sugar, and alcohol in a sample of wine and verify its age and type.

Cecilia Jiménez-Jorquera from the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics, and colleagues, created the multi sensor device and trained it to distinguish between different wines and grape juices.

The next step will be to extend the number of samples analyzed to get more precise results, and give the best training for this electronic tongue, said Jiménez-Jorquera.

Then the goal is to incorporate other kinds of chemical sensors to broaden the field of applications to other beverages and foods.