Researchers from researchers at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil have created an electrochemical device made from kraft paper which detects the presence of pesticides in fruits and vegetables in real-time when coupled with the electronic gadget. For an apple or a cabbage for instance it detects carbendazim which is a popular fungicide employed in Brazil although it has been restricted.

The latest device is extremely sensitive and is similar to diabetes glucometers that diabetics use to monitor blood sugar levels but the outcomes of food-based scanning for pesticides can be shown on a smartphone. “In the tests we conducted it was sensitive to those of the traditional techniques. It’s also fast and cost-effective,” said Jose Luiz Bott Neto who is a postdoctoral researcher at the IFSC-USP.

The system is made up of a substrate made from paper that has been that has been modified using carbon ink. It is then exposed to electrochemical processing using an acid solution in order to stimulate carboxyl groups which allow detection to be made, Bott Neto explained.

When they developed the device researchers analyzed the durability as well as the shape of the substrate.