Traffic light test to show how much caffeine is in your drink

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  • Published: Aug 8, 2013
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: MRI Spectroscopy / Infrared Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / X-ray Spectrometry / Proteomics / Atomic / Raman

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I managed to detox from caffeine a few years ago and now stick to decaffeinated coffee and tea as much as I can. Certainly no caffeine after 4pm or it will take ages for me to get to sleep later that night, even with the help of a "little" alcohol. But for those of you who are not double espresso addicts, or don't turn to energy drinks for stimulation, you might like to know of a little device on the horizon which could help you to keep track of your caffeine intake.

Scientists in Singapore and Korea have collaborated to produce a microfluidics device which gauges the amount of caffeine using a traffic light system. Red indicates a strong drink, yellow medium and green shows low caffeine content. The details are described in Scientific Reports.

They synthesised a novel dye based on a dipyrrolodiazaborinine complex which they dubbed Caffeine Orange. This dye was added to a lab-on-a-disc system which extracted caffeine from the drink and sent it to a reservoir of the dye to form the complex. Irradiation with a green laser pointer produced the relevant colour.

The device is not only intended for social use but could have important implications for people who cannot or should not ingest too much caffeine, perhaps for health reasons like irregular heart rhythm or caffeine allergies. It would help people make a rapid decision on taking a drink or not with the results being obtained within one minute. It has been tested on regular coffee drinks, Nescafé, cappuccino, Red Bull, various teas, Coca-Cola and decaff coffees.

So, watch out to see if this tester becomes commercialised. It could help you to control your caffeine intake, unless you're so high on caffeine in the first place that you really don't care.

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