New Electronic Nose’ Nano-Sensor Being Developed for Food Safety, Health

6/22/2013 7:00 AM

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The “electronic nose” sensor, developed by a University of California, Riverside engineering professor and being commercialized by Innovation Economy Crowd (ieCrowd), will be further refined to detect deadly pathogens including toxic pesticides in the global food supply chain, according to a recently signed product development and distribution agreement.

Nano Engineered Applications Inc., an ieCrowd Company, signed the multi-year, multi-phase agreement with a collaborator, whose name cannot be disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement. The collaborator is working directly with ieCrowd’s team members and Nosang Myung, a professor at the UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering, who is excited about the progress.

“I have been working on this technology for nearly a decade,” Myung said. “It’s great to see commercial interest in it.”

This is the first such agreement signed by NEA in relation to Myung’s “electronic nose” sensor research, which involves a nano-sensor array that can detect small qualities of harmful airborne substances. It uses functionalized carbon nanotubes, which are 100,000 times finer than human hair, to detect airborne toxins down to the parts per billion level.

Using ieCrowd’s commercialization platform, NEA is developing a range of products and applications for a diverse set of industries, including industrial sites (detecting gas leaks, combustion emissions), homeland security (warning systems for bio-terrorism) and the military (detecting chemical warfare agents). This new collaboration will be the first time the sensor will be customized for food safety and potency measurements.

“This collaboration will, when successful, usher in a new era of transparency and efficiency for measuring the level of pesticides and other chemicals in plants we use for food and medicine,” said Stephen F. Abbott, president of NEA. “Our work will also make the technology available to a broad number of applications that are important for a range of new and existing industries globally.”

In a unique partnership with UCR, ieCrowd is currently incubating and accelerating two professor-owned companies, including NEA, derived from research developed on UCR’s campus.

This agreement calls for the development of products and a testing platform capable of detecting specific volatile organic compounds released by plants when heated to specific temperatures.

The agreement is comprised of two phases: first, establishing efficacy of NEA’s sensors with these volatile organic compounds; and second, should phase one be successful, developing of hand-held products to detect volatile organic compounds.

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science.


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