EGYPT- A team of scientists from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Hebei University of Technology has developed a microwave microstrip line planar resonator sensor as an alternative tool for detecting adulteration in honey, Daily News Egypt has reported. 

This development of a new sensor comes at a time when consumers are concerned about the purity and health benefits of honey products they purchase, which sometimes contain hidden additives, most commonly water. 

“When choosing a honey product, my family members always have concerns about whether it is authentic or not,” Professor Zhen Li, College of Automation Engineering at Nanjing University of Astronautics, noted. 

Testing honey to assure its purity has however remained out of reach for many as common detection methods available for honey adulteration testing such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, and the carbon isotope method are expensive.  

Most often than not, these tests also comprise of complicated operational procedures, are time-consuming, or have low accuracy. 

The new method departs from what is the norm in the industry providing users with cost-effective and efficient methods for the food industry to ensure honey authenticity. 

The sensor works by detecting the interaction between honey and water. By testing honey samples with varying water content, the team discovered that the sensor’s resonance frequency consistently decreases with increased added water content. 

“When placed in the sensor, adulterated honey shifts the sensor’s resonance frequency. By measuring this shift, we can detect water adulteration in honey,” Li explained. 

The set is comprised of a microstrip line resonator sensor fabricated on a dielectric substrate, which is an insulator that can efficiently support electrostatic fields, such as ceramic or glass. 

On top, there are three thin copper strips separated by two gaps. The length of the middle strip and the electric field intensity at the gaps determine the resonance frequency of the device. 

With this new sensor in place, the team projects that the device could inspire further applications in liquid analysis, in industries such as food quality control, pharmaceuticals, and petrochemicals. 

We aim to extend our research to detect adulteration in other liquid products and develop more sensitive sensors for broader applications in quality control and food safety, starting with the impact of temperature on our sensor’s performance.”