Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Electronic Tongue That Mimics The Real Thing

Date:
November 1, 1998
Source:
University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering
Summary:
While artists may complain that critics' taste exists only in their mouths, UT Austin engineers and scientists have now successfully placed it on a silicon chip. Using chemical sensors, these University of Texas at Austin researchers designed an electronic tongue that mimics the real thing.

AUSTIN, Texas -- While artists may complain that critics' taste exists only in their mouths, UT Austin engineers and scientists have now successfully placed it on a silicon chip.

Using chemical sensors, these University of Texas at Austin researchers designed an electronic tongue that mimics the real thing. Like its natural counterpart, it has the potential someday to distinguish between a dazzling array of subtle flavors using a combination of the four elements of taste: sweet, sour, salt and bitter. And in some ways it has outdone Mother Nature: it has the capacity to analyze the chemical composition of a substance as well.

The device, which has the potential to incorporate hundreds of chemical microsensors on a silicon wafer, has a multitude of potential uses. The food and beverage industry wants to develop it for rapid testing of new food and drink products for comparison with a computer library of tastes proven popular with consumers.

But the artificial tongue can also be used for more distasteful purposes, to analyze cholesterol levels in blood, for instance, or cocaine in urine, or toxins in water. The National Institutes of Health recently gave the UT group $600,000 to develop a tongue version to replace the multiple medical tests done on blood and urine with one fast test.

The tongue research, reported this summer in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, began in 1996 when electrical and computer engineering professor Dean Neikirk and chemists John McDevitt and Eric Anslyn began casual discussion of the idea. Neikirk and McDevitt had already designed a nose to sniff out iodine, but soon realized that many chemicals don't evaporate. The new collaboration incorporated the work of Anslyn, a UT chemist and tongue researcher, who uses polymer microbeads to synthesize DNA and its proteins.

The team attached four well-known chemical sensors to Anslyn's minute beads and placed the beads in Neikirk's micro-machined wells on a silicon wafer. Like a human tongue, the wells mimicked the tongue's many cavities that hold chemical receptors known as taste buds. Each bead, like a tongue's receptor, had a sensor that responded to a specific chemical by changing color. One turned yellow in response to high acidity, purple under basic conditions. Then the researchers read the sensor's results through an attached camera-on-a-chip connected to a computer.

The sensors responded to different combinations of the four artificial taste elements with unique combinations of red, green and blue, enabling the device to analyze for several different chemical components simultaneously. This is where the group employed the expertise of chemist Jason Shear, who developed the dye photochemistry.

"The most pleasant aspect of our work has been the really neat way the expertise of the various team members has meshed. We have each been able to bring to the project something that might seem easy to one person, but is simply not possible for another," said Neikirk. "This has been a great example of how science and engineering can work together to produce something that will hopefully be of real utility."

From the silicon tongue, the team hopes to create a process to make artificial tongues more cheaply and quickly, placing them on a roll of tape, for example, to be used once and thrown away, explained Neikirk.

"Surprisingly this technology has created interest in vastly different areas," said McDevitt. "Besides the food industry, environmental and tourist industries want to incorporate it into hand-held monitors for feedback about local air and water. And there are huge markets in biomedical applications."

The researchers submitted a series of scientific publications demonstrating the use of their artificial tongue and have applied for several patents.

Note to editors: Photos are available at http://www.engr.utexas.edu/comm/news.htmll#neikirk


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. "Electronic Tongue That Mimics The Real Thing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981031175636.htm>.
University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. (1998, November 1). Electronic Tongue That Mimics The Real Thing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981031175636.htm
University Of Texas At Austin College Of Engineering. "Electronic Tongue That Mimics The Real Thing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981031175636.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Tesla, Panasonic Ink Deal To Make Huge Battery 'Gigafactory'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) The deal will help build a massive battery factory that Tesla says will produce 500,000 lithium batteries by 2020. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smoked: 2015 Ducati Diavel Vs 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Drag Race

Smoked: 2015 Ducati Diavel Vs 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Drag Race

Cycle World (July 30, 2014) The Bonnier Motorcycle Group presents Smoked; a three part video series. In this episode the 2015 Ducati Diavel takes on the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray Video provided by Cycle World
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins