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Science Technology

New Chip Can Identify Liquids, Encode Messages 37

Posted by timothy
from the handy-clandestine-uses dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have developed a porous chip that can identify liquids instantaneously. Each liquid's distinct surface tension determines how much it seeps into the pores of the chip, which the chip uses to tell liquids apart. The researchers also decorated the chip with a secret message (ie, brand name) that only shows up when certain liquids are applied. The chip is so sensitive it can distinguish gasolines with varying proportions of ethanol, and could help clean-up crews identify spills in the field."
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New Chip Can Identify Liquids, Encode Messages

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  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:42PM (#36991818) Homepage Journal
    So, I clicked through TFA and the link to the paper contained within. I'm not sure why Discover refers to this piece of hardware as a 'chip.' It doesn't appear to be an electronic chip of any sort. It looks like the information about what liquid the material is dipped in is derived from studying the patterns of 'wetness' within the material's structure. But I don't see any mention of how this information would be communicated via some electrical signal to a microprocessor or other circuitry. Perhaps I am thinking in a limited context, but it seems like this material's usefulness as a sensor is still very limited.

    Am I missing something?
  • by espiesp (1251084) on Friday August 05, 2011 @12:55AM (#36994048)

    Flex Fuel vehicles already monitor this with a fuel composition sensor. It measures Ethanol content from 0-100% with a variable frequency between 50-150Hz, and Fuel temp with a pulse-width between 1 and 5ms.

    Too bad it costs at least $400 or it'd be fun to play with.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein