Our Projects / h-ALO


photonic system for Adaptable muLtiple-analyte monitoring of fOod-quality

[H2020-EU.2.1.1, Information and Communication Technologies]

Project ID: 101016706

1 January 2021 – 31 December 2023 (ongoing project)

Coordinator: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Italy


Summary of the Project

The health of the food industry plays a critical role in modern society. Apart from assuring adequate supply, the assessment of food quality is vitally important for human well-being. The EU-funded h-ALO project will develop a cutting-edge food sensor to enable the easy assessment of food quality and safety. The sensor will have unprecedented sensitivity to multiple contaminants from different food matrices while being fast and easy to use on-site by non-expert operators. By offering a highly sensitive, miniaturised, user-friendly solution to assess food quality, the goal is to equip local food producers and retailers with a tool that can greatly increase competitiveness and product value throughout the industry.

h-ALO aims to develop and demonstrate in real-setting a new photonic-based sensor which will allow local food producers and retailers to control food quality and safety, therefore increasing competitiveness in the whole food production value chain.

The sensor will provide:

• Unprecedented high sensitivity, low limit-of-detection and large dynamic range compared to previously developed portable systems through the combination of an analyte pre-concentration and a multi-modal detection scheme;

• Miniaturization and integration of optoelectronic and plasmonic components allowing portability in optical detection;

• Multiplex-analyte recognition, allowing the unprecedented detection of both microbiological and chemical contaminants such as pesticides/antiparasitic, heavy metals, micro-organisms;

• Easy and fast sample preparation protocols which are adaptable for a wide range of food samples;

• Measurement automation and fast response, making the sensor reliable for on-site use by farmers, retailers and non-expert operators;

• Mobile-phone connectivity and cloud-based data management allowing a distributed, anonymous food monitoring along the farm-to-fork chain.


The innovative technologies at the basis of the h-ALO sensor are:

i) highly integrated organic/hybrid photonic components as light-source and photodetector;

ii) nanoplasmonic biofunctionalized surface assessing innovative multimodal optical transduction;

iii) innovative aptamer- and immunoassay-based bio-recognition elements for multiplexing;

iv) a smart microsieve membrane for analyte pre-concentration.

The h-ALO prototype will be validated in lab by quantitative comparison with benchmark commercially available methods and demonstrated on-site in small selected agri-food chains such as aquaponics, craft beer, raw milk and organic honey, and introduced into an HACCP manual.