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Battery-free Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Sensors for Food Quality and Safety

Potyrailo, Radislav A., Nagraj, Nandini, Tang, Zhexiong, Mondello, Frank J., Surman, Cheryl, Morris, William
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2012 v.60 no.35 pp. 8535-8543
batteries, electric field, fish, food labeling, food quality, foods, freshness, markets, microbial growth, milk, monitoring, radio frequency identification
Market demands for new sensors for food quality and safety stimulate the development of new sensing technologies that can provide an unobtrusive sensor form, battery-free operation, and minimal sensor cost. Intelligent labeling of food products to indicate and report their freshness and other conditions is one important possible application of such new sensors. This study applied passive (battery-free) radio frequency identification (RFID) sensors for the highly sensitive and selective detection of food freshness and bacterial growth. In these sensors, the electric field generated in the RFID sensor antenna extends from the plane of the RFID sensor and is affected by the ambient environment, providing the opportunity for sensing. This environment may be in the form of a food sample within the electric field of the sensing region or a sensing film deposited onto the sensor antenna. Examples of applications include monitoring of milk freshness, fish freshness, and bacterial growth in a solution. Unlike other food freshness monitoring approaches that require a thin film battery for operation of an RFID sensor and fabrication of custom-made sensors, the passive RFID sensing approach developed here combines the advantages of both battery-free and cost-effective sensor design and offers response selectivity that is impossible to achieve with other individual sensors.