The continuous monitoring of cold chains represents a major challenge for the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry. Transient temperature peaks often occur during transport, which cannot be traced. And many of the systems used for temperature monitoring are expensive.
A new monitoring solution has now been developed by one of BAM’s research teams: plastic labels with a temperature memory.
"One has to imagine that the labels undergo a change in shape when heated to a temperature pre-selected by ourselves," explains Thorsten Pretsch, who heads the BAM project. "Two-dimensional codes contained in the labels change shape to such an extent that they become machine-readable and indicate that a temperature threshold has been exceeded."
Meanwhile, the scientists were able to show that labels equipped with Quick Response (QR) codes can be made machine-readable at 0 °C, 10 °C and 20 °C. If they are used to label temperature-critical goods, monitoring can be done by reading tests using a commercial smartphone. The temperature memory polymer tested in the experiments is a thermoplastic polyurethane and comes from Bayer MaterialScience AG.
Originally, the labels were developed for tamperproof labelling of goods. "The temperature memory opens up completely new possibilities that previously could not be implemented due to the high production effort," explains Pretsch.
The project is funded by the "Validation of the innovation potential of scientific research – VIP" initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF grant number 03V0043).
Dr. rer. nat. Thorsten Pretsch
Department 6 Materials Protection and Surface Technologies
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