In its monthly industry release, The Silver Institute reported once again several new applications of silver in products across several industries, in particular health, food and beverage. The Silver Institute has written extensively how silver has helped breakthrough improvements in product development and industries; read previous articles here, here, here, and here.
Chinese scientists have developed ‘smart tags’ composed of silver and gold microscopic-sized rods that can stick to containers and change color when food has gone bad.
The tags, each about the size of a corn kernel, mimic the time and temperature conditions under which specific foods would deteriorate and indicate possible spoilage by changing color.
The tags work without opening the package or touching the food inside. The tags were tested on milk that was exposed to different temperatures and bacteria until spoilage occurred. This data allowed researchers to synchronize the tags to show when the milk was unfit to drink. The tags, which cost less than a cent each, can also be customized to work on canned goods and even medicines still inside their containers.
“We successfully synchronized, at multiple temperatures, the chemical evolution process in the smart tag with microbial growth processes in the milk,” lead researcher Chao Zhang, a scientist at Peking University in Beijing, said in a statement. “If a product was left out too long or stored improperly — even if customers, grocery-store owners and manufacturers can’t tell the difference without opening it and smelling it — the tag still gives a reliable indication of the quality of the product.”
The silver and gold nanorods tags contain vitamin C, acetic and lactic acids, and agar, which react with nanorods to change their color. The gold nanorods are naturally red. Over time, the other compounds such as silver leave deposits, forming a silver shell layer that alters the shape and composition of the gold nanorods, a process that changes their color. “Therefore, as the silver layer thickens over time, the tag color evolves from the initial red to orange, yellow, green and even blue and violet,” Zhang explained.
The tags were introduced at the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting in Dallas on March 17.
As a follow-up to its popular Tata Swach non-electric, silver-based water purifier (See Silver News, February, 2012, Tata’s’s Inexpensive Nanosilver Water Filters Reach a Half-Million Sold), Tata Chemicals, Ltd. has introduced the Tata Swach Silver Boost, which adds a water storage capacity of 14 liters, auto-shut off mechanism and direct-tap-fill. The Swach Silver Boost can produce 3 to 4 liters per hour of drinking water depending upon the initial water quality.
In touting the Swach Silver Boost, company officials noted that while chlorine disinfection is the most commonly used technology for water purification, it only provides protection from bacteria and virus, and does not protect from Cryptosporidium which can cause substantial weight loss, nausea and even malnutrition. Other water purification technologies that only use membrane purification do not provide protection against virus which may cause harmful diseases like Polio, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E.
“Over and above protection from water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice and cholera, the Tata Swach Silver Boost combines the power of MF [Ultra/Microfiltration] membrane with silver nanotechnology to make water microbiologically safe from virus, bacteria and parasites/cyst along with safety from algae, fungi, rust, metal particles and turbidity. It provides double protection from bacteria through Tata Swach Bulb and Tata Swach MF membrane,” said Ashvini Hiran, COO, Consumer Product Business, Tata Chemicals, in a prepared statement.
Purification takes place when water is dropped through the Bulb, which consists of carbon from burnt rice husks and nanosilver, which can remove microbes including cholera, E-Coli and the rotavirus. The MF membrane is the final stage of purification and removes bacteria, cysts, protozoa, algae, fungi, rust, metal particles, Giardia and turbidity.
The Tata Swach Silver Boost will retail for about $US45.00.
Calling their inventions ‘smart holograms,’ researchers at the University of Cambridge have figured out that by imbedding silver particles in hydrogels – highly-absorbent materials used in products ranging from contact lenses to disposable diapers – and hitting them with a laser, that the metal particles form 3-D holograms in a fraction of a second. In the presence of various chemicals, the hydrogels either swell or contract, forcing the holograms to change color based on which compound has been introduced.
This means that the silver-laced hydrogels could be used for a slew of medical and environmental tests to check for compounds such as glucose, alcohol, hormones, drugs, bacteria and pollutants. Researchers suggest that the smart holograms hold the promise of detecting diabetes, drug use, cardiac abnormalities, infections and hormonal imbalances. An added benefit is that the holograms are constructed in less than a second, making these sensors suitable for mass production.
“Currently, a lot of medical testing is performed on large, expensive equipment,” said Ali Yetsien, a Phd. student in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology who is leading the research. “While these sorts of inexpensive, portable tests aren’t meant to replace a doctor, holograms could enable people to easily monitor their own health, and could be useful for early diagnosis, which is critical for so many conditions.”
He added that the sensors are faster, easier and cheaper to produce than current technologies, about 10 cents each, which make them practical in developing economies where tests, such as those to detect abnormal amounts of glucose, would otherwise be too expensive. He added that the holographic process is reversible, allowing the hydrogel to be used many times before it must be discarded.
silver: holographic sensors
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