Using space tech to root out counterfeit food


A laser device originally designed to measure carbon on Mars could soon be used on Earth to stop counterfeiting of food, making sure the honey, olive oil and chocolate are what they say.

According to Dr. Damien Weidmann, Laser Spectroscopy Team Leader RAL Space, invented false cheap honey from sugar would be detected by laser scanning just the carbon dioxide emitted by burning milligrams.7 few years, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory – RAL – in England embarked on a project of “blue sky” research space to develop a new laser technique for the identification of isotopes in space.

Equipment today is big, bulky and stationary. In fact, the samples, such as contaminated soil, should be collected in the field, put in a flask and taken to the laboratory for analysis. However, the new laser ‘isotope ratio meters’ from space RAL could change the status quo.

With its small, light, robust laser, high-precision, the device could be sent into space in search of traces of gas samples in minutes.

“One takes a laser whose optical frequency or” color “can be adjusted continuously to transfer a gas sample, and detecting the level that passes through the gas. As changes color laser light passes directly through sample until it reaches a particular frequency, specific isotopic gas, which is partially blocked, “Weidmann said.

“Every molecule, and each of its isotopic forms, has a unique fingerprint spectrum. If, on the other hand, you know what you are looking for, you can simply adjust the laser to the right frequency. Addition, the proportions of different isotopes tells us about the history of the formation of the molecule. ”

As noted Weidmann, the laser device was originally developed to help gather evidence about whether there was life on Mars, simply because the methane in the Martian atmosphere is not fully understood. Therefore, the analysis of carbon isotope ratios can help identify their source, and if it is of bacterial origin, which would mean a way of life occurred on Mars.

Although not yet used in space, the approach can be used early in the Earth, thanks to funding from ESA for a demonstration project of Technology Transfer.

“One thing is to develop a novel technology for a particular spatial area. Another is to make it a viable system for use on Earth, in a completely different field and with different requirements.

“The demonstrator project made it possible for us to demonstrate their potential and attract the interest of a company that could take it and use it for a specific application on Earth,” he added.

via TG Daily


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