A small, inexpensive lab-on-a-chip sensor developed in Illinois has the ability to identify the entire range of natural and artificial sweet substances.
The 'electronic tongue' sensor has potential applications as a quality control test for food producers to optimise the taste of carbonated drinks, beer and other beverages.
It is also able to identify the sweeteners used in solid foods like cakes, biscuits and chewing gum, which it has also been suggested that in future medial professionals may use it in chemical-sensing applications, such as monitoring blood glucose levels.
Study leader Kenneth Suslick from the University of Illinois commented: "This is the first practical electronic tongue sensor that you can simply dip into a sample and identify the source of sweetness based on its colour."
The device is similar to one developed last year at the Barcelona Institute of Microelectronics, which uses six sensors to identify the grape variety and vintage in a glass of wine.