A nano-scale barcode system is used both to track cells in the human organism and to monitor commercial items along production and distribution chains. It is also being used in nature to supervise wildlife on land, in the air or water.
Technology Life Cycle

Technology Life Cycle


Initial phase where new technologies are conceptualized and developed. During this stage, technical viability is explored and initial prototypes may be created.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Prototype Demonstration

Prototype is fully demonstrated in operational environment.

Technology Diffusion

Technology Diffusion


First to adopt new technologies. They are willing to take risks and are crucial to the initial testing and development of new applications.


For many global industries and government regulators, counterfeiting and contamination remain top concerns, with public health implications and a substantial economic impact at stake. As a solution, nano-scale barcode systems could be used to monitor and tag various items, improving supply chain efficiency while making it easier to track assets and general-purpose compliance applications.

These nanobarcodes can take the shape of a nanogel marking or synthetic DNA coated with silica. Luminescent proteins could also be used to respond to microbes, allowing easy and obvious detection of contamination. This barcoding system would react to chemicals, pathogens, and toxins present in goods, thus helping enhance the item's monitoring process throughout the production and distribution chains. Once applied, nanobarcodes can't be replaced or removed from the product, and they do not alter the colour, flavour, or texture.

The data collected through nanobarcodes could enhance consumer awareness, such as in cosmetics, when buyers can access the current condition of a given product, for example, a defacto updated expiration date. Also, this technology can help companies better manage their goods and systems, increasing productivity and efficiency, as well as bringing economic benefits to both farmers and retailers while improving product quality and prices for consumers. In the healthcare industry, for instance, applying multimodal nanoimaging agents in the human body would enable noninvasive, quantitative, and longitudinal stem cell tracking. In this process, labelled stem cells are injected into an injured muscle and then tracked by an imaging system.

Today, this technology is being used to observe and track wildlife, such as birds, bats, giant insects, and fish. This data can give insights into migration patterns to help find more suitable locations for wind turbines and other buildings. There is also a potential use to monitor pets and livestock for the early detection of zoonotic diseases.

Future Perspectives

In the future, nanobarcoding is expected to help researchers identify patterns of hundreds of molecules that form molecular signatures for different applications. It offers innovative solutions that one day may include connective features like with the Internet of Things applications. Furthermore, it could help raise the awareness level of ethical marketplaces and encourage their managers and owners to crack down on intellectual property abuse.

As countries increasingly grow adverse to agrochemicals, nanobarcodes will make it easier for inspectors to identify if molecules have been altered or were subject to prohibited substances. Such barcodes could become a mandatory practice to facilitate the work of some regulatory bodies inspecting goods.

Image generated by Envisioning using Midjourney

Admittedly, technology baffles this feeble dinosaur’s mind. I mean, how does your cellphone find somebody else’s miles away? With no wires? And where do all the little people on your television screen go when you change the channel or turn off the set? And how can we watch a sporting event or news conference on the other side of the world, while it is happening?
Scientists with the New Jersey Audubon are using some of the world’s smallest tracking devices to solve one of the biggest conservation mysteries: What is driving the precipitous decline in shorebird populations, and where is that happening?
Scientists with the New Jersey Audubon are using some of the world’s smallest tracking devices to solve one of the biggest conservation mysteries: What is driving the precipitous decline in shorebird populations, and where is that happening? By gluing tiny “nanotags” – button-sized radio transmitters trailing delicate wire antenna – to the backs of semipalmated sandpipers, researchers hope to identify exactly where the birds are running into trouble as they migrate back and forth between the Canadian arctic, the United States and northern South America.
Is the food on the shelf really that what is written on the label? Its DNA would give it away, but the DNA barcoding technology, which can be used for this purpose, is labor-intensive.
DNA barcoding allows unambiguous species identification through genetic sequencing and can serve as an analytical tool to prevent food fraud. However its routine application is hampered by strict requirements regarding sample treatment and the need for specialized equipment and handling personnel.
Multimodal nanoparticles for structural and functional tracking of stem cell therapy on muscle regeneration - Horizon 2020 resarch project
Multifunctional magnetic nanowires (MNWs) have been studied intensively over the last decades, in diverse applications. Numerous MNW-based systems have been introduced, initially for fundamental studies and later for sensing applications such as biolabeling and nanobarcoding. Remote sensing of MNWs for authentication and/or anti-counterfeiting is not only limited to engineering their properties, but also requires reliable sensing and decoding platforms. We review the latest progress in designing MNWs that have been, and are being, introduced as nanobarcodes, along with the pros and cons of the proposed sensing and decoding methods. Based on our review, we determine fundamental challenges and suggest future directions for research that will unleash the full potential of MNWs for nanobarcoding applications.
An invisible tag mixed into your olive oil may be the newest solution against fraud and counterfeiting in this type of product. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH, in the German acronym) have announced that they’ve successfully produced a marker for olive oil, using a tiny piece of artificial genetic material. The tag, made of synthetic DNA coated with silica, measures no more than a nanometer (a millionth of a millimeter). It cannot be replaced or removed from the product and doesn’t alter its color or flavor. Taking a small sample of olive oil and analyzing it in a laboratory can confirm its origin and determine whether any tampering has taken place, with the addition of other types of oil. For easier identification, the DNA nanoparticle tag is marked with magnetic iron oxide. The tags could also be mixed into gasoline and perfumes. The researchers believe that consumers will not be repelled by olive oil or other edible products that contain silica and iron oxide. Silica is already present in ketchups, sauces, and juices, and iron is a widespread food additive. The new technology may meet the world’s demand for a way to identify counterfeit food. In a joint operation early in 2014, Interpol and Europol confiscated over 1,200 metric tons of fake food products and 430,000 liters of counterfeit beverages. The study was published in the journal ACS Nano on March 25, 2014.
Magnetic nanowires (MNWs) rank among the most promising multifunctional magnetic nanomaterials for nanobarcoding applications owing to their safety, nontoxicity, and remote decoding using a single magnetic excitation source. Until recently, coercivity and saturation magnetization have been proposed as encoding parameters. Herein, backward remanence magnetization (BRM) is used to decode unknown remanence spectra of MNWs-based nanobarcodes. A simple and fast expectation algorithm is proposed to decode the unknown remanence spectra with a success rate of 86% even though the MNWs have similar coercivities, which cannot be accomplished by other decoding schemes. Our experimental approach and analytical analysis open a promising direction towards reliably decoding magnetic nanobarcodes to expand their capabilities for security and labeling applications.
A nanotagged chemical structure comprising a chemical structure with an associated photocatalyst and a tagging nanoparticle (a nanotag) grown in proximity to the photocatalyst, and a method for making the nanotagged chemical structure. The nanoparticle is grown in proximity to the photocatalyst by using a photocatalytic reduction reaction.
For the promotion of global trading and the reduction of potential risks, the role of international standardization of nanotechnologies has become more and more important. This book gives an overview of the current status of nanotechnology including the importance of metrology and characterization at the nanoscale, international standardization of nanotechnology, and industrial innovation of nano-enabled products. First the field of nanometrology, nanomaterial standardization and nanomaterial innovation is introduced. Second, major concepts in analytical measurements are given in order to provide a basis for the reliable and reproducible characterization of nanomaterials. The role of standards organizations are presented and finally, an overview of risk management and the commercial impact of metrology and standardization for industrial innovations.
This is the first report of the use of a hand-held 1064 nm Raman spectrometer combined with red-shifted surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) nanotags to provide an unprecedented performance in the short-wave infrared (SWIR) region. A library consisting of 17 chalcogenopyrylium nanotags produce extraordinary SERS responses with femtomolar detection limits being obtained using the portable instrument. This is well beyond previous SERS detection limits at this far red-shifted wavelength and opens up new options for SERS sensors in the SWIR region of the electromagnetic spectrum (between 950 and 1700 nm).
Food authenticity and safety are major concerns for researchers, consumers, and particularly the meat industry. Meat products are targets for species substitution and adulteration due to their market value. Presently, the demand for halal products is witnessing a substantial increase. Therefore, it is essential to use appropriate science-based methods for determining the species origin of halal meat. DNA barcoding is a useful technique for the molecular identification of biological specimens, and raw and processed foods. The potential of using DNA barcoding is increasingly applied as an authentication tool for halal animal and meat products. Our review will bring together all DNA-based techniques that have been developed for the authenticity of meat derived from halal and non-halal animals and also their derivatives. Additionally, the present paper will highlight the possibility of using the DNA barcoding approach for halal meat authenticity
This article provides design methods for a local integrated zoonotic surveillance plan and materials developed for veterinarians to assist in the early detection of bioevents.
Is the food on the shelf really that what is written on the label? Its DNA would give it away, but the DNA barcoding technology, which can be used for this purpose, is labor-intensive. Now, in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Italian scientists have introduced a simplified assay coined NanoTracer. Combining DNA barcoding with nanotechnology, it requires neither expensive tools nor extremely skilled personnel, but just the naked eye to identify a color change.
The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which provides easily understandable, science-based information on food safety, food quality, health and nutrition to consumers, the media, health and nutrition professionals and educators.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017 May 23. doi: 10.1002/anie.201702120. [Epub ahead of print]
Novel food packaging technologies arose as a result of consumer’s desire for convenient, ready to eat, tasty and mild processed food products with extended shelf life and maintained quality. Recent trend of lifestyle changes with less time for consumers to prepare foods posed a great challenge toward food packaging sector for the evolution of novel and innovative food packaging techniques. The novel food packaging techniques, viz. active packaging, intelligent packaging and bio active packaging which involve intentional interaction with the food or its surroundings and influence on consumer’s health have been the major innovations in the field of packaging technology. These novel techniques act by prolonging the shelf life, enhancing or maintaining the quality, providing indication and to regulate freshness of food product. The advancement in novel food packaging technologies involves retardation in oxidation, hindered respiratory process, prevention of microbial attack, prevention of moisture infusion, use of CO2 scavengers/emitters, ethylene scavengers, aroma emitters, time-temperature sensors, ripeness indicators, biosensors and sustained release of antioxidants during storage. The novel food packaging technologies besides the basic function of containment increase the margin of food quality and safety. The novel food packaging techniques thus help in fulfilling the demands throughout the food supply chain by gearing up toward persons own lifestyle. The main objectives of this review article are to provide basic knowledge of different new and innovative food packaging techniques about their way of preservative action, effectiveness and suitability in various types of foods.
Nanotechnology has the potential of application in the food industry and processing as new tools for pathogen detection, disease treatment delivery systems, food packaging, and delivery of bioactive compounds to target sites. The application of nanotechnology in food systems will provide new methods to improve safety and the nutritional value of food products. This article will review the current advances of applications of nanotechnology in food science and technology. Also, it describes new current food laws for nanofood and novel articles in the field of risk assessment of using nanotechnology in the food industry.

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