Project abstract

Synthetic colorants – commonly referred to as ‘food additives’- have been usually allowed and intensively used in food industry to replace natural color in thousand of products, thus artificial food dye consumption has increased by 500% in the last 50 years, and children are the biggest consumers. The controversies concerning azo-dyes use date back to the 1920s, when increasing evidence indicated that their consumption pose potential risks to humans, causing severe health adverse effects. In this context, the current project research proposal is motivated by the necessity to tackle few of the current society requirements regarding the need to regulate food quality and to provide safety assurances for consumers by developing portable, cheap and sensitive detection devices with direct applicability in preventing the increased use of highly toxic color additives in food industry and reducing the potential negative side-effects associated with artificial food dye consumption on human’s health. Our main goal is to take a new nanocomposite polymer/graphene-based material out of the lab and transfer it into a real world applications which exploits at maximum the extraordinary and versatile graphene properties, by integration of modified electrodes in novel electronic systems that can revolutionize multiple industries, especially the sensor applications, with direct beneficial impact in health and life sciences.

The research team targets to take use of the high sensitivity and selectivity of an already existing modified electrode obtained in our group (from the surface area modification of a glassy-carbon electrode, with a new type of chitosan/graphene nanocomposite material) in order to fabricate a low cost sensing electrochemical platform adapted for the rapid, on-site and real time quantitative analysis of trace levels of SY from commercially available food and beverage products.