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The cold-chain challenge: à la carte Time-temperature indicators enabled by patterned structural colour in organic semiconductors

Project description

Optimising time-temperature indicators for cold-chain verification of pharmaceuticals

Temperature-controlled supply chains are essential for preserving the quality of perishable foods and the safety of vital pharmaceutical and medical products such as vaccines. Time-temperature indicators like smart labels are commonly used for refrigerated foods to indicate time exposure to elevated temperatures. However, such indicators are not practical for sensitive pharmaceutical products that are small and variable in size and often require specific storage under extreme sub-zero temperatures. Funded by the European Research Council, the VERITASCAN project seeks to validate a new category of time-temperature indicators based on patterned organic semiconductor films. These will be optimised to provide better exposure monitoring at a wider temperature range.


The global demand for cold-chain logistics is surging, driven by changing consumer lifestyles, government legislations to reduce waste and rapid diversification of supply chains. The pressure is particularly felt in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, where many life-saving products such as vaccines, peptides, blood and plasma explicitly require shipping and handling at specific temperatures. The use of time-temperature indicators to provide visual cues for undesirable exposure to elevated temperatures offers the means for cold-chain verification. However, the existing food market indicators cannot fully address the specific challenges posed by the pharmaceutical industry, such as:
i) Small size and flexible form factors;
ii) Low cost for item-level applications and distribution in low-income countries;
iii) Operation at ultra-low temperatures from –20 down to –70 °C for mRNA vaccines.
The ambition of VERITASCAN is to advance a new class of time-temperature indicators, drawing on emerging ‘smart packaging’ concepts and harnessing recent breakthroughs in scalable micro-processing of organic semiconductors realised within my group. Specifically, my team will deliver versatile indicators design based on patterned organic semiconductor films that are erasable on-demand by selection of molecular ‘solvents’. We will optimize the temperature range and accumulative exposure monitoring, as well as validate the commercial viability of the technology via comprehensive field-tests with our industrial partners.
My interim objective is to establish a sustainable value creation model in the market. The long-term goal of VERITASCAN is to introduce transformative user-centred technology that addresses urgent societal needs.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
28006 Madrid

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Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)