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Biodegradable Biopolymer Nanocomposite Developed to Monitor Packed Food Freshness

In the presence of high humidity, the fluorescence of the nanocomposite film changes. As a result, the fabricated nanocomposite film can monitor the freshness of packed food using only a UV light source.

Shivam Dwivedi
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

A newly developed biodegradable, biopolymer nanocomposite that detects relative humidity could be used as smart packaging materials, particularly in the food industry. The food industry is increasingly in need of non-toxic, biodegradable, low-cost, and environmentally friendly packaging materials to replace petroleum-based materials such as plastics.

Furthermore, smart and active packaging materials are required to detect and report food quality in real-time. These intelligent and active packaging systems respond to signals as they interact with the food packaging environment. Changes in relative humidity can easily damage perishable packaged foods.

Scientists from the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology led by Prof. Devasish Chowdhury, Professor in the Physical Sciences Division, and Sazzadur Rahman, an INSPIRE Senior Research Fellow (SRF), have developed a smart biodegradable biopolymer nanocomposite that can detect relative humidity.

In this study, two biopolymers, Guar Gum (a plant-derived bean) and Alginate (derived from brown algae) were combined with carbon dots (a nanomaterial) to create a nanocomposite film that was successfully used to detect relative humidity.

The fabricated nanocomposite film was an excellent smart sensor against humidity based on fluorescence 'on-off' mechanisms. Their findings appeared in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.

In the presence of high humidity, the fluorescence of the nanocomposite film changes. As a result, the fabricated nanocomposite film can monitor the freshness of packed food using only a UV light source.

"Intelligent and active packaging can assist consumers in selecting a fresh product without breaking the pack." "Innovative packaging increases sales and saves consumers time identifying fresh food products," Prof. Chowdhury said.

(Source: PIB)

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