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Micro-ring resonator-based biophotonic system for food analysis

Micro-ring resonator-based biophotonic system for food analysis

English EN

Portable device for simple, fast detection of food contaminations

Researchers within the EU-funded BIOFOS project have created a portable, multi-analytic bio-sensing device to detect contaminants in olive oil, nuts and milk.


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Monitoring food quality and detecting contamination is usually a lengthy, expensive and cumbersome process involving specialised laboratories and multiple technologies. Not only does this significantly delay the process of getting food from the farm to the table, it also creates ample gaps where a contaminated batch can slip through. In fact, because of the time, complexity and money involved in testing food samples, only 1 % of the food consumed in the EU is tested. To remedy this problem, researchers with the BIOFOS project set out to develop a simple, fast and reliable screening tool for in-situ detection of contaminations in nuts, olive oil and milk. The result is an innovative tool that integrates photonic, biological, nanochemical and fluidic technologies into a single, easy-to-use and completely portable device. Innovative combination of technology The BIOFOS device is built on the ultra-low loss TriPleX photonic platform. Researchers then integrated a miniature chip consisting of micro-ring resonators, VCSEL and Si photodiodes onto the platform. This multi-functional chip allows for the multianalyte detection of mycotoxins, heavy metals and other food contaminants. To achieve the required level of sensitivity and high specificity, the system utilises aptamers as biorecognition elements that can be regenerated several times. Researchers also developed advanced surface functionalisation techniques to provide reliable immobilisation of the aptamers on the sensor surface. This built-in pre-treatment unit allows users to clean and concentrate the samples (filter/SPE) and to precisely dispense a defined sample volume onto the detection platform using the controlled pressure driven dispenser (cPDD). ‘This combination of the new microfluidic structures and simple pre-treatment protocols is what allowed us to pack all of this technology into an easy-to-use device,’ says BIOFOS project coordinator Ioanna Zergioti. Revolutionising food quality BIOFOS has the unique capability of tracing seven different contaminants commonly found in olive oil, nuts and milk samples with an easy procedure that only takes a few minutes. When used on real food samples, the device showed promising results. In particular, it excelled at detecting such contaminants as Phosmet in olive oil, and AFB1 and Ochratoxin A mycotoxins in nuts at concentrations at ppb levels. It was also successfully determined Lactose levels in milk samples within just 30 minutes – a remarkably short amount of time compared to what it usually takes when done in a lab. By covering all the stages of the production process, the device addresses a number of growing concerns from a range of stakeholders in the olive oil, nuts and milk sectors. From farming, to seed cropping to the final product – BIOFOS covers it all. ‘BIOFOS revolutionises the analysis of food quality by offering a faster, low-cost, easy-to-use and reliable system with specific and highly sensitive detection capabilities,’ says Zergioti. ‘In a “nutshell”, BIOFOS is a must-have device for today’s European food industry.”


BIOFOS, food safety, food contamination, food inspection

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 611528


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 November 2013

  • End date

    31 January 2017

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 3 733 966

  • EU contribution

    € 2 750 000

Coordinated by: