Caution: corked! Sensor for cork taint in wine developed

The presence of the molecule responsible for cork taint in wine can now be clearly identified: with the recently developed sensor even slight traces of the most common wine fault can be detected. Further applications include the identification of pesticides or even explosives. This has been shown in a just published study by researchers of the University of Fribourg supported by the University of Bordeaux.

When a wine is “corked” it is usually the cork which releases the relevant molecules. These often come from fungicides the cork oak tree has been treated with. With the aid of a spongelike, porous supramolecular grid these ‘corked’ molecules can be “caught”. As soon as such a substance is present and has infiltrated the sensor’s pores, an optical marker becomes visible, in that the sensor ceases to fluoresce (gleam) and so indicates that the quality of the wine has been affected.

Detection of pesticides or explosives
The study also shows other applications: the sensor can detect particular pesticides or herbicides which are authorized in some countries but prohibited in Switzerland. Using the sensor would, for example, enable the detection of traces of these in fruit and vegetables. Moreover, the grid-like structure also reacts to explosives and could in future contribute to the detection of explosive substances at airports, for example. When testing, the sensor substance can either be used in solution (in the case of fruit juice or similar) or on a paper test strip. The sensor is able to be regenerated and is then ready to be reused in further tests.

International cooperation
The paper has just been published in the scientific journal “Inorganic Chemistry”. The study was undertaken under the direction of Prof. Katharina M. Fromm and PhD student Serhii Vasylevskyi of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Fribourg. Some of the testing was carried out at the University of Bordeaux, France, under the supervision of Dr Dario Bassani of the Institute of Molecular Sciences. In addition, the research project was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Further information:
Link to the paper