Megan Scudellari reported in The Scientist on April 30 in "Sensor Measures Produce Ripeness," on a 25 cent ethylene sensor developed by chemists at MIT that could help grocers and shippers gauge the ripeness of fruits and vegetables.
The sensor, described April 19 in the journal Angewandte Chemie [International Edition], is made of an array of tens of thousands of carbon nanotubes modified with copper atoms, which bind ethylene and allow scientists to measure the amount of gas present. The researchers successfully tested their sensors on bananas, avocados, apples, pears, and oranges, accurately determining their ripeness.
The inexpensive devices could someday be attached to cardboard boxes of produce and scanned with a handheld device to reveal the contents’ ripeness, said [MIT's Timothy] Swager. Then, grocers would know when to put items on sale before they get too ripe.If you are a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst community, you can read the Angewandte Chemie article using the library's subscription.
- On campus, use this link.
- Off campus, use this link - you will need to authenticate yourself using an OIT username and password, and navigate to the full text of the article.
As a past student of post-harvest physiology, I suspect this device could be a real boon to the industry and the consumer, and result in much less wasted produce.