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For reliable and sensitive measurements

in process and quality control , the Sensor

Technology group at TNO is your trusted partner in developing, implementing and integrating sensors and
sensor systems.
We have an extensive network of contacts with universities, research institutes and sensor producers. Our
sensors and sensor systems are developed in close collaboration with sensor producers and you, the enduser.

Opto-chemical sensors

We are currently developing concentration measurement sensors for application

in the:
Defense purposes
Food and Agro-industry
Chemical Industry.
The sensor technology group at TNO is able to develop on-line and in-line sensors, process and
packaging control systems, quality control equipment, non-invasive detection equipment and many more sensor
types. The main expertise is focussed on opto-chemical and spectroscopic sensor technology.
Developments cover the whole spectrum from feasibility of new innovative ideas to prototype development and
application in R&D. Existing sensor principles can be modified in order to meet the specific demands of a given
application. The innovative aspect of opto-chemical sensors is often in the development of selective and stable

Opto-chemical sensors developed at TNO are more robust and less prone to drift. They consist of a selective coating
coupled to an optical read-out system. Measured responses can be either be in the form of a colour change or a
change in fluorescent properties, including fluorescence lifetime, or a change in refractive index at an optical
interface. Their selectivity comes from specific chemical and biochemical interactions.

Examples are an optical sensor for dissolved as well as gas phase oxygen and an optical in-line pH sensor for
safeguarding pH stability in pasteurized products.
Spectroscopic sensors developed at TNO are used in quality and process control as well as for contaminant
screening and are based on IR, fluorescence, Raman and Surface Enhanced Raman (SERS) spectroscopy.
We develop dedicated solutions for the implementation and use of sensors in specific matrices, as well as sensors
meeting specific demands, such as low cost or high operational stability.

Colour-based indicator for volatile amines

Low oxygen or high carbon dioxide atmospheres are frequently used for oxygen sensitive products such as food and
pharmaceutical products. his requires the use of non-invasive O2 or CO2 sensors positioned inside packages for leak
Other non-invasive sensors applied to packaging provide an excellent means to monitor the quality of perishable
goods. They are crucial in linking shelf-life and packaging strategy as well as for increasing the shelf-life.
A recent example is the Oxysensor technique, enabling the detection of oxygen concentrations from ambient (21%)
down to 0.01 mg/l in liquids or 0.02% by volume in gas. The sensor is independent of pH (2-12), is almost free of
matrix interferences by other components, whereas the measurements itself do not consume oxygen. Other
examples are sensors for volatile amines, such as trimethyl amine and volatile organic acids.

In the field of (bio)chemical analysis TNO combines high-end expertise on (off)flavours, biochemistry,
toxicology, legislation and bioinformatics. Based on advanced analytical equipment and statistics we
develop innovative techniques to assess and predict product quality and (bio)process characteristics. In
addition, new safety evaluation tools for potentially toxic substances in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical
products are being developed.

In advanced food analysis TNO focuses on the identification of (bio)active substances that influence the quality,
safety and flavours of foods. In addition, we unravel processes down to a molecular level, to understand better the
quality/safety-determining molecules and/or factors. We can apply advanced analytical techniques such as GCxGCMS, GC-HRMS, LC-FTMS and LC-OrbitrapMS in combination with (bio)statistics to improve your product.
Examples of this approach are the identification of compounds that render a bitter taste to yoghurt and the
identification of substances that play an important role in flavour development in cognac.


Food ingredients may contain toxic compounds. In addition, food processing may lead to the formation of unexpected
and potentially harmful compounds. The formation of acrylamide in certain fried and baked products is a recent
example thereof. Also reaction products and migrants from food or pharma packaging materials may be a source of
TNO has devised a new concept for the safety evaluation of potentially toxic compounds in food, cosmetics and
pharmaceutical products based on toxicology and exposure, rather than peak-by-peak identification and
quantification. The TNO concept focuses on relevance omitting redundant analysis of less harmfull substances. The
concept is used to explore, optimize and monitor food stuffs for potentially toxic compounds aiming at a reduction of
animal testing, time and expenses in relation to conventional toxicity testing. The method uses the 'Threshold of
Toxicological Concern (TTC)' principle which takes into account the measured compound concentration, its estimated
toxicity (for example genotoxicity) in relation to the type of compound and the estimated human (dietary) exposure.

TNOs screening platform joins various technologies from different fields, such as analytical chemistry, physiology,
microbiology and molecular biology. The approach consists of a fractionation of the food matrix, determination of the
functionality of fractions in an artificial micro-gut system, and characterization of the functional components. The
results of the various platform steps are linked through data-analysis methods, providing manufacturers with a
complete overview of the process.
Currently screening can be performed on satiety (peptides), oligosaccharides (see download) and lipids.