Technology To Detect Fruit Ripening
Do you fancy eating over ripe fruits or are you nauseated by the smell of too ripe a banana and disturbed by the sickly sweet odor of bursting berries? No worries if you are not excited at the idea of eating such sickly sweet smelling fruits. Help is now here in the form of a special sensor that can mimic all the actions of a sniffing Labrador puppy. Yes, this tiny machine can actually detect the chemicals released by an overripe fruit that might just help the food producers worldwide to control their rotting produces thereby avoiding losses amounting to thousands of dollars.
It all began when Timothy Swager, a professor of chemistry at “Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies “, MIT developed a very special sensor that could actually detect signs of fruit starting to ripen or rot. Swager had been engaged in developing several high tech sensors before this with many of them being used by the airport security in order to detect strange particles or mysterious chemical vapors in the air. However, being able to utilize a similar sensor for the food industry will definitely give the producers an edge over nature and help to prevent undue wastage in the long run.
The Science Behind The Technology
A miniscule drop of ethylene is responsible for the ripening process of a fruit by converting the starches into sugar, getting rid of the acidic property and softening of its firm flesh. However, the sickly sweet smell isn’t too obvious until the fruit starts to rot and it becomes too late to reverse the changes then. Swager has made use of nanotechnology to create sensors capable of detecting the initial whiff of ethylene in a fruit. This will help the food producers to store their produces more carefully and distribute them timely.
The best news about these sensors are its size. They are even smaller than a conventional bar code and hardly take up any room at all. Another big plus is its economy factor with each sensor costing only a few cents each. Furthermore, you could just attach one of them to your refrigerator in order to control the food you have at home or in a shop.
However, the scientists need to work some more on the product before it is made available commercially. After all, you do need to have it continue working even after you spill coffee or drop beer on it. Swager and his team are now putting on such finishing touches.
Timothy Swager has applied for a patent on his newest invention. Hopefully, we will be able to utilize it real soon!
Image Credit- chemistry-blog