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Applying PCB sensor technology to nutrition science
Keywords: Packaging, Sensor, PCB
Excessive consumption of sugar and salt is detrimental to a person’s health. A simple and low-cost sensor that could determine salt and sugar content of foods and drinks could be very beneficial for helping a person avoid over consumption of foods and drinks high in salt and/or sugar. Printed circuit board (PCB) sensors have been used in many applications, including precision agriculture, environmental monitoring, and for detecting corrosion products. Therefore, a study was conducted to evaluate if a simple low-cost PCB sensor could be used to measure salt and sugar content in aqueous solution. The sensor consisted of a commercially fabricated two-layer FR-4 PCB with a two electrode electrical conductivity sensor on one side, and a solder mask covered fringing field capacitive sensor on the other side. Both sensors had attached SMA connectors for convenient connection to laboratory instrumentation (Agilent 4192A LF Impedance analyzer). Tests were conducted where increasing quantities of powered brown cane sugar and powered sea salt were added to 125 mL of deionized (DI) water, respectively, while electrical conductance and capacitance were measured using the PCB sensor. The results indicated that the sensor could reliably measure salt content, but not sugar content.
Robert N. Dean and Rebecca E. Dean,
Auburn University
Auburn, AL

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