A quick high quality milk test
Higher security in milk production
Food safety and quality have reached a very high standard in Germany and the European Union. This also applies to the dairy industry. However, contaminants, pesticides and antibiotics can enter the milk – with effects on consumer health.
In a European Commission funded project MOLOKO, Fraunhofer researchers are working with partners to develop an optoplasmonic sensor that will allow rapid analysis of on-site milk quality and safety parameters. In the future, an early warning system will help the industry drastically reduce the cost, time and liters of waste products and optimize production throughout the supply chain.
Food security is crucial for the food industry – and even for the dairy industry. Pests enter the milk via udder infection. Chemicals such as antibiotics and pesticides can lead to contamination through animal feed or due to inadequate controls.
In order to prevent contaminated milk from entering the food chain, controls are carried out throughout the production process and throughout the supply chain. But these standard tests are associated with high costs and time.
Samples analyzed in the laboratories were taken from tanks of mixed milk collection vehicles from several dairy farms. If milk is found to be contaminated, huge quantities must be destroyed, which is associated with large losses for the farmers and dairies concerned. This can be avoided by checking the milk directly from the farmer before embarking on bulk transport.
Quality checks bring readings in five minutes
Twelve partners – including one milk milk – from seven countries have come up with a solution to detect milk impurities much cheaper and faster with the EU milk project (Multiplex background sensor for online detection of contaminants in milk on pLasmonic): New Optoplasmonics Sensor Should act as an early warning system and as an additional control before milk enters the tank. In about five minutes you should analyze them with one measurement on a total of six ingredients. The sensor is functionalized with specific antibodies for different parameters of milk safety and quality and enables automatic quantitative on-site analysis in dairy farms.
Unique integrated sensor architecture
The complete system consists of a reusable microfluidic chip, an organic light transistor (OLET) or diode (OLED), an organic photodetector (OPD) or sensor, a nanostructured plasmonic lattice, and specific antibodies
, Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP develops an organic photodetector, Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nanosystems ENAS microfluidic chip. OLETs and photonic grids are developed by CNR-ISMN in Bologna and Plasmore Srl in Pavia (Italy).
"The peculiarity of our chip is that it can be reused. This is achieved by releasing the target molecules from the immobilized antibodies with regeneration buffer so that they can be reused for further detection," explains Andreas Morschhauser, Fraunhofer scientist at ENAS. The chip is designed for a hundred measurements. Six parameters or pollutants and proteins can be analyzed with each measurement.
To this end, Morschhauser and his colleagues develop a microfluidic system in the form of a replaceable, automated and miniaturized cartridge. In addition to the milk information obtained, the measured parameters also make it possible to draw conclusions about the health of each individual cow, and farmers receive a wealth of information on their condition. For example, infections can be recognized early and treated quickly. Early treatment can i.a. contribute to the prudent use of antibiotics and therefore to their reduction.
Nanostructured surface plasmon resonance lattice
But how does the proof work? "The transistor creates light that falls on the antibody-covered grid. These are specific to the relevant constituents. If the milk is now spilled over the antibodies, the target molecules bind to them. As a result, the refractive index changes near the grid, resulting in a change in light reflection. .
Reflected light falls on a photodetector that measures minimal change in the refractive index, "explains Michael Törker, MD, a scientist at Fraunhofer FEP, the principle of measurement. The basic effect is called surface plasmon resonance and occurs, among others. The effect allows for fast and very sensitive measurements.
The biosensor should be used at various points along the value chain: both as a laboratory device and directly integrated into milking parlors. However, the system is not only suitable for checking the quality of milk. With the help of an optoplasmonic sensor, other liquids such as beer or water could be analyzed in the future.
For this purpose, only the adaptation of the immobilized capture molecules and the required reaction buffer is required. Only gripper molecules must be replaced and adapted for this purpose.
The first results of the development work of the optoplasmonic chip will be presented at CES 2020 (January 7 – 10, 2020, Las Vegas, Cabin OE-A, No. 40950, Sands Expo Center).
Dr. weapons. nat. Martina the bird
Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nanosystems ENAS
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Dr. weapons. nat. Martina Vogel | Fraunhofer Research Compact