RFID tags can be applied to food using edible graphene

Graphene is an extremely thin and strong structure, consisting of the word carbon atoms. In addition, graphene is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and also has antibacterial properties. Recently, we increasingly publish news about which new fields of science and our life can apply graphene, but the staff of the James Tours Laboratory of the University of Rice has definitely managed to surprise all of its colleagues. They demonstrated the technology of applying edible graphene RFID tags to food products.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a method for automatically identifying objects in which radio data reads or writes data stored in so-called transponders or RFID tags. The scientist from the University of Rice managed to create a new material called LIG (Laser-Induced Graphene). As its name implies, this method implies the use of a laser to heat the surface of the material and thereby create a peeling, foamy form of graphene. Initially, the experiments were carried out with the material of polyamide, but later the researchers managed to realize the process on the surface of the wood.

Now scientists have been able to apply this technology to apply graphene to a variety of materials. By experiments, they found that the best results are provided when the laser is defocused and provided that it makes several passes over the surface of the material. At the first pass, the laser photothermally converts the surface to amorphous carbon, and then in the subsequent passages selective absorption of infrared light transforms the amorphous carbon into LIG.

Along with materials such as cardboard, paper, cloth, cork and coal, scientists have managed to apply graphene drawings to the surface of food products: bread, potatoes and even coconuts. The key to the successful production of graphene on the surface of these products, as scientists believe, is polymer lignin. It allows the dried wood to be transformed into graphene. Approximately the same thing happens with food. Labeled products are excellent conductors, which allows them to be used as RFID tags.

Such labels may contain the shelf life of the product, the country and the exact place of its origin, and many other valuable information. At the same time, you will not need to stick any stickers on the product, because all the information will be applied to it with the help of edible graphene. Given that graphene can be applied not only to food, but also to cloth, it is possible that in the future, wearable graphene sensors or even heating systems based on graphene conductors of heat will be actively used. The results of the research were published in the journalACS Nano.

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