Carbon nanotubes could provide an easy, inexpensive method of determining the ripeness of fruit.
How often does this happen to you? You bite into an apple only to find that it isn’t quite ripe yet. Or you peel open a banana to find that it’s already browning inside and past its prime.
A new device developed at MIT could help avoid these unwelcome fruity discoveries and save grocery stores millions of dollars in spoiled produce.
The device, which is still in the concept phase, uses carbon nanotubes to detect the gas ethylene, which fruits emit as they mature, causing them to ripen. Produce warehouses already monitor ethylene with current technologies such as gas chromatography or mass spectroscopy, but those devices are large and expensive: they can cost upwards of $1,200 each.