Biosensors evoke images of tiny chips and wireless technology, but the next generation of biosensors may be something strikingly more familiar: holograms.

Holograms cost only fractions of a cent, and the technology could usher in an era of “smart labels” that show when food is spoiled or when body glucose and alcohol levels are too high, said Chris Lowe, a professor at Cambridge University, who has started a company, Smart Holograms, based on his technology. Lowe described his work Friday here at a conference sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



Prototypes have already been made for contact lenses that monitor glucose levels, thin badges that detect alcohol levels, and sticks that can tell, instantly, if milk has spoiled or become contaminated. The technology promises to be quicker and cheaper than tests used today. It will also require less training, because the hologram itself can be designed to show results graphically.



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