The area of microsystems ensures the coupling of microsensors, electronics, signal processing, micro-actuators and micro-fluidics, and their heterogeneous integration into smart miniaturized systems offering proficient, automatic and cost effective solutions for virtually any industrial application (automotive, space, communications, aerospace, medicine, food, etc.).
Microsystems is defined as systems that provide information on the food products or change the properties of the food products and involves component build using micro and nano technologies. It focuses on material / device / equipment developments that could be regarded as an ICT contribution to food applications. Ingredients or food additives are not covered.
MST can be used to micro-fabricate sensors and diagnostic systems, including the necessary sample preparation that will detect and quantify pressure, acceleration, humidity, temperature, physical damage and exposure to radiation, but also chemical and biological agents. Integrated MST will significantly contribute to the economic benefit of European food industry by proving small, distributed and cheap sensor, as well as to the food safety perception of the consumer and the overall food quality.
Microstructures, microdevices and microsystems
A survey showed that the main MNT technologies used in European projects are: RFIDs (16%), Microfluidics and Lab on a chip (16%), Physical Sensors (13%), Chemical Sensors (10%), Optical sensors (8%), Flex Electronics (5%), Biosensors opticals (3%) and MEMS Devices (3%).
|Biosensors are used for the detection of an analyte that combines a biological component able to interact specifically with a target and a physicochemical detector able to convert the recognition event into a measurable signal.||A lab-on-a-chip integrates one or several control and manipulating functions on a single chip of only millimeters to a few square centimeters in size.|
|Printed electronics is a set of printing methods used to create electrical devices on various substrates.||Microsieves are microfiltration membranes with well-defined pores with micrometers size.|
|A chemical sensor transforms chemical information into an analytically useful signal.||A physical sensor is a device that provides information about a physical property of the system (temperature, pressure)||An optical sensor is a device that converts light rays into electronic signals.|
Examples of applications
Nowadays, many european projects concerning research on MST for food technologies exist. The main sectors concerned are: Beverages (17%), Dairy (15%), Fruits and vegetables (15%), Meat (15%) and Fish (3%). Many applications are possible for these sectors:
1. Sophisticated devices (sensors – “Lab on chips”) on raw materials and finished products:
–Chemical sensors for detection of chemical contaminants (e.g. heavy metals), chemical residues (pesticides, veterinary drugs)
–Biochemical sensors for detecting / measuring mycotoxins, enterotoxins or allergens
–Microbiological sensors (e.g. DNA) for the detection of human pathogenic bacteria or viruses.
2. Monitoring and control technologies and processes with the objectives of:
–Approaches to monitor the processes along the food chain as well as to communicate different quality assurance measurements in the single processing steps. This also includes the optimization and modeling of processes.
–Automation and robotics. Physical sensors: time, temperature, pressure, pH, moisture, red ox potential, partial pressure of O2
–Chemical sensors to monitor food products shelf life: markers of oxidation, chemical sensors to monitor processes: CO2, O2
–Detection of physical contamination (metal, glass)
3. Process Safety / Traceability / Logistics:
–Monitoring food safety: detection of pathogens, pesticides, mycotoxins, fungi, antibiotic contamination
–Monitoring food quality: control of freshness, ripeness, sugar content, taste, size, color, odour
–Monitoring the supply chain management (e.g. cold chain: sensors time / temperature)
–Monitoring the products authenticity: biochemical sensors
Main actors and commercial examples
FoodMicrosystem involves the establishment of a directory which contains contacts of key research groups in microsystems that address food-related topics. To date, a list of 360 European organizations including both research centers and industries has been established. The directory presents a brief description of the organization and the details of the contact person. Click here to access to the directory.
Moreover, many companies in Europe have already developed FMS technologies for several applications.
|Innosieve Diagnostics BV has developed time and temperature indicators.Read more||Neosens has developed chemical sensors probes to control water quality in food processing.Read more||Insion has developed micro-spectrometers allowing a color control.Read more|
|Nanomi has developed microsieve™ emulsification technology for the production of precisely defined functional emulsions, and micro and nanospheres.Read more||ripeSense®is the worlds first intelligent sensor label that changes color to indicate the ripeness of fruit.Read more||Inbea Biosensores S.L. has developed indicators to control quality in wine, beer, milk and fruits juice.Read more|
Food Microsystems CSA-ICT-FP7: FoodMicroSystems presentation