A New Science for Security and Food Safety

The Weizmann Institute and MS-Tech Pioneer a New-generation of Sensors

Episode A04

Host: Dr. Stephen D. Bryen

Sponsor: SDB Partners LLC (www.sdb-partners.com) “Powerful Access to Hard Markets”

He was a leading chemist and scientist. He also was a political leader who was looking to convince the British government to support a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. He earned the respect of the British government because of his scientific work and, in turn, that helped give him the credibility he needed to get support for a Jewish state.

Weizmann invented the bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum (now called the Weizmann organism) to produce acetone. Acetone was used in the manufacture of cordite explosives. Because acetone was in short supply, Weizmann’s process solved a major problem for the allies in World War I.

In 1934 he and Benjamin Bloch founded a research institute in Palestine which, in 1949, was renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science. Today the institute is world famous, and the tradition of its founder, continues. Scientists from the Institute are credited with many awards, among them the Wolf Prize for Chemistry and the Nobel Prize for chemistry in Medicine.

Illustration 1: The Weizmann Institute in Rehoboth, Israel

In a chemistry laboratory at the Weizmann Institute, a team of scientific experts led by Professor Abraham Shanzer have produced a new type of sensing mechanism which promises to revolutionize security against explosives and make it possible to find pathogens and other impurities in real time before they enter the food supply.

Illustration 2: Professor Abraham Shanzer at the Weizmann Institute

The scientific story is focused on what is called high frequency quartz crystal microbalance (HF-CQM) technology. In simple terms the quartz crystals can be coated in different way through plasma etching and other deposition methods from polymers, monolayers and antibodies. The coatings are made to self-activate when they come into contact with very low concentrations of molecules of materials that match their coating -in effect changing the vibrating frequency of the crystal. Arrays of crystals can be organized in a matrix, so that any single sensor can catch a variety of substances at any single time. The sensor is very fast, very easy to purge, and is accurate. 

Illustration 3: A HF-QCM Sensor at the MS Tech R&D Center

The importance of sensors in explosives detection is well understood today. But in other sectors, such as the safety of food, until now rapid detection of spoilage or contaminants was something that could only be done in laboratories using analytical tests and tools that require hours, if not days, to assess results. Unfortunately for the consumer this has meant that, for the most part, discovery was at the end of the food chain, meaning that enough people had to get sick before curative action was initiated. As we recently saw in Germany, many people died and the source of the contamination (by a variant of e.Coli) took time to uncover.

The scientific effort led to the founding of MS-Tech, the company charged with commercializing HF-QCM technology. The company, backed by its prestigious science team and R&D Center, is poised to revolutionize sensor technology. MS Tech has High-Frequency Quartz Crystal Microbalance (HF-QCM), Tuning Fork and Sensor-Fusion technologies. MS-Tech is also developing additional sensor technologies. The sensors function in gas, vapor and liquid phase (i.e. In-Line, Contact and Non-Contact detection capabilities).

Illustration 4: MSTECH CEO Doron Shalom

The company is headed by a young businessman, Doron Shalom, who received his education in the UK, at the Middlesex University Business School and at the London School of Economics. Doron serves as an Expert Adviser to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and heads the business and manufacturing programs of MS-Tech and its component affiliates.

SDB Partners (www.sdb-partners.com) can provide more information about MS-Tech to qualified parties.

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Here is some news  just in on July 4th from the Ha’aretz in Israel:

Weizmann Institute scores as best research spot outside U.S.

Weizmann is the only Israeli research center on the magazine’s list of the top 10 international academic institutions.

By Lital Levin

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot is the best academic institution to work for outside the United States, according to the The Scientist. The New York-based monthly is a journal aimed at those who work in the life sciences.

Weizmann is the only Israeli research center on the magazine’s list of the top 10 international academic institutions. Other countries represented on the list include Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Of all the non-U.S. institutions listed, Weizmann has the smallest number of full-time life science researchers – 108 – but the most scientific citations – an average of 30.47 per paper over the past decade. INRA, the French scientific institute for agricultural research that came in at No. 2, has an average of 14.24 citations in the same period, though it has more than 10 times the number of full-time researchers.

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