Partnering opportunity

Holographic sensor for detection of adulterants in essential oils


A Spanish university has developed a holographic technique for a fast qualitative detection of adulterants in essential oils not needing qualified personnel for its use. The sensor could be miniaturized and manufactured at a lower cost compared to traditional methods of analysis such as gas or liquid chromatography. It can be applied in different sectors (food, fragrance, cosmetics, etc.). Producers of spectrophotometers interested in licensing/technical cooperation agreements are sought.

Partner sought

- Type of partner sought: Industries - Specific area of activity of the partner: Producers of spectrophotometers. - Task to be performed: Commercial exploitation of the technology through license agreement; jointly collaboration through technical cooperation agreement to adapt this technique to their particular requirements and/or to test it at industrial scale.


Essential oils are mixtures of intensely aromatic substances obtained from plants, flowers, fruits, woods, resins or roots by means of physical processes such as distillation, extraction with solvents or compression. They can reach a very high price in the market due to their low proportion in plants and difficult extraction. Essential oils are used in a large number of consumer products, from food and flavour for food, to cosmetics and perfumery. The number of companies that use essential oils as raw material for their products is very high, but most of them do not have the economic resources and the qualified personnel necessary to perform tests by high performance liquid chromatography or gas chromatography. Therefore, a practical way is necessary to determine adulterations in essential oils without needing specialized personnel or expensive investments in analytical equipment. In this sense, a Spanish research group has developed a holographic technique for detecting adulterants in essential oils by using photopolymers as recording material. The adulterated essential oil is combined with the photopolymer, modifying its characteristics. The modification introduced by the essential oil in the photopolymer makes possible to detect an adulteration of the essential oil by means of the optical technique. The sensor consists of two laser beams and radiometers. The laser beams pass through the photopolymer modified with the essential oil. From the diffraction and transmitted light beams it can be deduced if a specific sample of essential oil has been adulterated. Taking into account the great sensitivity of holographic techniques, it is also possible to determine the degree of adulteration, i.e. to perform a quantitative analysis. To this end, the sensor must be previously calibrated for a specific adulterant. The technology, which is protected by patent (and PCT application pending), has been developed at laboratory level. There are prototypes that are not portable. A limited number of essential oils and possible adulterants have been tested. The developed holographic technique could have market application for different sectors: - Food, flavours - Fragrance - Parapharmacy - Pharmacy and cosmetics - Perfumery The university is looking for companies manufacturing spectrophotometers interested in the commercial exploitation of this technology through license agreement or technical cooperation agreement to adapt it to its needs and/or to develop it at industrial scale.

Advantages and innovations

The most innovative aspect of this technology is the fact that the holographic technique developed allows the easy, low-cost and fast detection of adulterants in essential oils, giving an idea of its quality. While, the main advantages are: • The detection of adulterants is made quickly, obtaining the analysis results immediately. • The sensor can work with samples of essential oil in the range of microliters, being able to detect different types of adulterants without having to be modified. • The sensor and the tests have a lower cost than conventional analysis methods: gas chromatography and high resolution liquid chromatography. • The sensor can be manufactured in a portable device and can be miniaturized. • It can be handled by personnel with a minimum training without the need to be an expert in chromatography. • The sensor can be calibrated for a specific adulterant, and a quantitative estimation of the adulteration of an essential oil can be made.

Development stage

Under development/lab tested

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patents granted

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