Chili pepper is one of the favorite foods of many consumers. For some people, the spicier the chili the better it is; other people prefer milder ones. Thai scientists have developed a portable device - whimsically shaped like a chili pepper - to help consumers know how much capsaicin (the compound that gives the peppers their flavor and intensity) a pepper has in a simple, precise, and economical way, without having to bite it.
The device can also be connected to a phone to display the test results.
How it works
The device is equipped with an electrochemical sensor, based on paper, and some graphene nano-plates with nitrogen atoms to improve their electrical conductivity.
When a drop of diluted capsaicin is added to the sensor, the compound undergoes oxidation-reduction reactions that produce an electrical current that the device is able to detect.
After optimizing the sensor, the researchers used it to determine capsaicin concentrations in six dried chili samples, achieving highly accurate measurements.
The researchers published their results in ACS Applied Nano Materials.
In addition to providing a spicy flavor, the capsaicin in chili peppers has important health benefits, including antioxidants, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. That's why the demand for capsaicin, as a food additive and a pharmaceutical agent, is increasing.