Development of taste sensor to detect non-charged bitter substances

Jumpei Yoshimatsu, Kiyoshi Toko, Yusuke Tahara, Misaki Ishida, Masaaki Habara, Hidekazu Ikezaki, Honami Kojima, Saeri Ikegami, Miyako Yoshida, Takahiro Uchida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A taste sensor with lipid/polymer membranes is one of the devices that can evaluate taste objectively. However, the conventional taste sensor cannot measure non-charged bitter substances, such as caffeine contained in coffee, because the taste sensor uses the potentiometric measurement based mainly on change in surface electric charge density of the membrane. In this study, we aimed at the detection of typical non-charged bitter substances such as caffeine, theophylline and theobromine included in beverages and pharmaceutical products. The developed sensor is designed to detect the change in the membrane potential by using a kind of allosteric mechanism of breaking an intramolecular hydrogen bond between the carboxy group and hydroxy group of aromatic carboxylic acid (i.e., hydroxy-, dihydroxy-, and trihydroxybenzoic acids) when non-charged bitter substances are bound to the hydroxy group. As a result of surface modification by immersing the sensor electrode in a modification solution in which 2,6-dihydroxybenzoic acid was dissolved, it was confirmed that the sensor response increased with the concentration of caffeine as well as allied substances. The threshold and increase tendency were consistent with those of human senses. The detection mechanism is discussed by taking into account intramolecular and intermolecular hydrogen bonds, which cause allostery. These findings suggest that it is possible to evaluate bitterness caused by non-charged bitter substances objectively by using the taste sensor with allosteric mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3455
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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