Researchers develop reusable, paper-based lycopene sensors
Science & Technology
11th Nov, 2022
A team of researchers at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, has developed a nano-biosensor for detecting ‘lycopene’.
What is lycopene?
- Lycopene is a type of organic pigment called a carotenoid.
- It is synthesized by plants and microorganisms but cannot be synthesized by the human body and can only be obtained via diet.
- It gives some vegetables and fruits (e.g., tomatoes) a red colour.
- Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that might help protect cells from damage. It's found in tomato, watermelon, red-orange, pink grapefruit, apricot, papaya, and guava.
- It is a potent antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and heart disease.
- It may interfere with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Cancer patients are therefore suggested to use lycopene supplements with caution.
About the Discovery:
- The develop Nano-biosensor uses a portable smartphone-based upconverting reusable fluorescent paper strip.
- The reusable, paper-based strip may help make the lycopene detection process easy, cheap, and less time-consuming.
- The biosensor (transparent strip) offers minimal scattering with maximum sensitivity in comparison to previous paper strips.
- The study has been published by the American Chemical Society.
Upconversion Nanoparticles (UCNP):
- Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) are a unique class of optical nanomaterials that exhibit photon upconversion.
- Upconversion is a process where light can be emitted with photon energies higher than the light generating the excitation.
- An example is the conversion of infrared light to visible light.
- In photon upconversion, two or more incident photons of relatively low energy are absorbed and converted into one emitted photon with higher energy.
- The developed transparent Upconversion nanoparticle (UCNP) strip is sensitive to lycopene with a detection limit as low as 10 NM.
- A simple smartphone camera can be used for detection.
Effect of degradation of Lycopene on Tomato:
Other methods of determining lycopene in food or biological samples:
- UV-Visible spectrophotometry
- Liquid chromatography
- Reverse-phase liquid chromatography
- Supercritical fluid chromatography
- Matrix-assisted desorption ionization
- The undesirable Biodegradation of lycopene not only affects the attractive color of the final products but also their nutritive value.
- The main cause of lycopene degradation in tomato dehydration is isomerization and oxidation.
- As a result, the quality of the produce is rated based on the lycopene present in it and is priced accordingly.