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Smart packaging uses self-reading indicators to say if product is fresh, sterile, or more

By applying a layer of etchant onto a metallized/opaque plastic film printed with one message on the top and another at the bottom, a new line of self-reading indicators facilitate packages that monitor shelf life, sterilization, and toxic agents. Nano-Indis from JP Labs can for instance, read "FRESH" when perishables are fresh and "NOT FRESH" only when their shelf-life expires; likewise they display "STERILIZED" only when medical supplies are sterilized.

can for instance, read "FRESH" when perishables are fresh and "NOT FRESH" only when their shelf-life expires; likewise they display "STERILIZED" only when medical supplies are sterilized. JP Labs says the destructible RFIDs simultaneously monitor quality and inventory of perishables and medical supplies.

JP Labs notes that a typical metallized plastic film has one 10-nm aluminum layer and one 2-nm oxide layer. When these nanomaterials are destroyed, a combined message, "NOT FRESH," appears abruptly after a predetermined time (see video).

JP Labs says the technology can be used to monitor time as self-expiring visitor and employee ID badges; retail stickers; shipping and security labels; and tickets for parking, trains, buses, and sporting events. They're also applicable in films to test for doneness of microwave and ready-to-eat meals and shelf life, replacing sell-by/use-by dates of foods and pharmaceuticals, among other product data areas like freezing, thawing, moisture, toxic agents, and ionizing radiation. [email protected]

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