Tiny, edible sensor poised to improve food safety

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In Switzerland, a team of researchers have developed a sensor made out of nontoxic, edible materials that monitors the temperature of food products during distribution.

Measuring just 16 millimeters thick—less than a fifth of the width of a single human hair—the sensor is made from magnesium, silicon dioxide, and nitride encased in a compostable polymer. Biocompatible zinc cables connect the microsensor to an external battery. A microprocessor transmits the data via Bluetooth.

Development was led by ETH Zurich’s Giovanni Salvatore, who expects to see similar devices become much more prevalent in the next five to ten years. “Once the price of biosensors falls through, they could be used virtually anywhere,” he said in a statement.

The work was published in a recent issue of the journal Advanced Functional Materials.