Serving counterfeit liquor is not only unethical, but depending on the contents of that liquor, can also be dangerous to the people consuming it. It was with this in mind that scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently developed a portable device that can tell fake booze from the real thing.

Created by Kenneth S. Suslick and Zheng Li, the device consists of a handheld image analyzer that contains a disposable sensor cartridge.

When exposed to the vapours given off by a liquor sample, an array of 36 dyes within that sensor change color. By comparing that specific color pattern to a database of those produced by known liquors, the analyzer can confirm or refute that the sampled liquor is legit.

Results are obtained in just two minutes.

In lab tests, the device was able to correctly identify the alcoholic content and brand of 14 different liquors, including various scotch whiskies, bourbon, rye, brandy and vodka. It was also successful at determining when liquors had been watered down by as little as 1 percent.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Sensors.

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