Taste Sensor Capable of Quantifying Tastes

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Taste Sensor Capable of Quantifying Tastes

The TS-5000Z taste sensor from Intelligent Sensor Technology responds not only to the basic tastes sensed by humans of bitter, sweet, umami, salty, and sour, but also to aftertastes of astringent, sharpness, and richness. The sensor can be regarded as an “artificial tongue” that has a proprietary membrane known as an artificial lipid membrane. When a taste substance comes in contact with this membrane, the voltage changes, and by measuring it the taste is discerned.

The human tongue has taste cells. The surface of these taste cells is covered with lipids. We postulated that these lipids, regarded as a barrier, are important in detecting taste. When a taste substance such as bitter or astringent comes in contact with the surface of these taste cells, the voltage changes and this is transmitted to the brain. So we developed a sensor for this process. So now we have five sensors for the five basic tastes, plus an astringency sensor, for a total of six sensors. We also measured aftertaste, namely the aftertaste of bitter, astringent, and umami, so we have created numerical datasets for a total of nine categories.

This taste sensor uses a proprietary method to measure voltage change and determine taste. Measurement is based on measurement of fluid, so solids are mixed and turned into fluid form before measuring. The taste sensor is first dipped in fluid called a reference solution to derive the membrane electric potential. Next, when the taste sensor is dipped into the solution to be measured for taste, the membrane electric potential changes. This change represents a basic taste such as sour or salty. Next, if the taste sensor is first lightly washed with the reference solution and then dipped back into the reference solution, the membrane electric potential of a bitter or astringent substance adsorbed onto the lipid membrane surface is derived. This change in membrane electric potential corresponds to an aftertaste, or to sharpness or body of aftertaste.

This is the actual sensor. This membrane here is an artificial lipid membrane. For example, this is put into contact with coffee. If this is a bitter sensor, bitter substances are adsorbed by this bitter sensor. So then the voltage changes. These signals are processed on a computer. After this, if the sensor is put into contact with water, adsorbed taste substances will be steadily released , and for sharp flavors they will be released more quickly. Membranes will stay intact for flavors with a strong aftertaste. This means that aftertaste can also be measured.

Using its taste sensor, Intelligent Sensor Technology will make food development proposals to the food industry that account for various food cultures including factors such as age and region or country. In addition, the company aims to create a global standard language for taste using its taste sensor.

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