A multichannel taste sensor, namely an electronic tongue, with global selectivity is composed of several kinds of lipid/polymer membranes for transforming information about substances producing taste into electrical signals, which are input to a computer. The sensor output exhibits different patterns for chemical substances which have different taste qualities such as saltiness, sourness and bitterness, whereas it exhibits similar patterns for chemical substances with similar tastes. The sensor responds to the taste itself, as can be understood from the fact that taste interactions such as the suppression effect, which appears for mixtures of sweet and bitter substances, can be reproduced well. The suppression of the bitterness of quinine and a drug substance by sucrose can be quantified. Amino acids can be classified into several groups according to their own tastes on the basis of sensor outputs. The tastes of foodstuffs such as beer, coffee, mineral water, milk, sake, rice, soybean paste and vegetables can be discussed quantitatively using the taste sensor, which provides the objective scale for the human sensory expression. The flavour of a wine is also discriminated using the taste - odour sensory fusion conducted by combining the taste sensor and an odour-sensor array using conducting polymer elements. The taste sensor can also be applied to measurements of water pollution. Miniaturization of the taste sensor using FET produces the same characteristics as those of the above taste sensor by measuring the gate - source voltage. Use of the taste sensor will lead to a new era of food and environmental sciences.
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