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5th November 2022 (6 Topics)

Researchers develop reusable, paper-based lycopene sensors


  • A team of researchers at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, has developed a nano-biosensor for detecting ‘lycopene’.


About the Discovery:
  • The researchers from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, have developed a nano-biosensor for detecting ‘lycopene’.
  • The biosensor (transparent strip) offers minimal scattering with maximum sensitivity in comparison to previous paper strips.
  • The sensor uses a portable smartphone-based upconverting reusable fluorescent paper strip.
  • A simple smartphone camera can be used for detection.
  • The reusable, paper-based strip may help make the lycopene detection process easy, cheap, and less time-consuming.
  • The study has been published by the American Chemical Society.
Issues with present analytical methods:
  • A commercial sensor is used for determining the percentage. The process is expensive and time-consuming.
Upconversion Nanoparticles (UCNP):
  • Upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) are nanoscale particles (diameter 1–100 nm) that exhibit photon upconversion.
  • Upconversion is a process where light can be emitted with photon energies higher than the light generating the excitation.
  • In photon upconversion, two or more incident photons of relatively low energy are absorbed and converted into one emitted photon with higher energy.
  • This transparent Upconversion nanoparticle (UCNP) strip is sensitive to lycopene with a detection limit as low as 10 nM.
How does it work?
  • An increase in strip hydrophobicity during the fabrication process complements the strip to selectively permeate and present an extraction-free substitute analysis for chromatography.
  • Hydrophobicity endows the strip with the capability to reuse the strip with approximately 100 percent luminescence recovery.
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 color.
  • 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.
Effect of degradation of Lycopene on Tomato:
  • 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.
Methods to determine lycopene in food or biological samples:
  • UV-Visible spectrophotometry
  • Liquid chromatography
  • Reverse-phase liquid chromatography
  • Supercritical fluid chromatography
  • Matrix-assisted desorption ionization

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