Your Future Fridge Could Contain A UV Drawer For Fruit

A USDA scientist accepted a challenge to extend the life of strawberries in the fridge by 50 percent. His solution: LEDs that emitted dim ultraviolet light.

What's the Latest Development?

Steven Britz, a scientist at the US Department of Agriculture's Food Components and Health Laboratory, knew that ultraviolet (UV) light helped extend strawberries' life soon after harvest, but he wondered if there was a way to transfer that same benefit to the common refrigerator. Working with LED experts, he came up with a solution: A cooler containing LEDs that emitted dim UV light. After nine days in the cooler, strawberries stored there "showed no mould, retained most of their moisture, and had lost few of the health-promoting anthocyanin compounds that give them their colour."

What's the Big Idea?

A susceptibility to fungal diseases is what makes strawberries so notoriously short-lived. While UV light exposure helps prolong their life, it's also dangerous to humans. Britz' proposed compromise for a fridge of the future: "[A] UV-proof drawer containing UV-LEDs that turn on automatically, and only when the door is closed." In supermarkets, a specially equipped case could switch off its lights when the door is opened. Britz will present his research this week at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics in San Jose, CA.

Photo Credit:

Read it at New Scientist

Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less