Our Research Project
The Mushroom Initiative Ltd. is inviting more people to pay attention to the nutrient content in natural and non-processed food and we aim at providing some certain objective indicators to understand our food.
To do so, we are now developing a portable plant nutrient meter ── “VF Nutrient Scanner”, which is a device for measuring antioxidant and chlorophyll contents of vegetables and fruits. On top of information such as the products’ origins, appearance and prices, consumers can now use “VF Nutrient Scanner” to measure antioxidant and chlorophyll contents of our foods. (Read more to understand why antioxidant and chlorophyll contents are important indicator to measure.)
How Does It Work?
“VF Nutrient Scanner” is a portable, easy to operate and instant tool for general consumers. The user simply needs to scan the vegetable or fruit sample and then the bluetooth-paired smartphone will display the result on the mobile app for his/her reference. The specific result includes total antioxidant and chlorophyll content of the sample.
Apart from household application, “VF Nutrient Scanner” would also be beneficial to growers or landscape greening professionals, to assess plants’ chlorophyll level. As chlorophyll is one of the plant health indicators, this enables users to make informed agronomic decisions, such as fertilizer application, abiotic and biotic stress (i.e. pathogen, pest attacks) countermeasures.
“VF Nutrient Scanner” incorporates the techniques of a fluorescence spectrometer. Under UV-radiation, plant cells of the vegetables and fruits will be activated. Then, the cells will emit two types of fluorescence: purple and red/infra-red fluorescence emission spectrum. Purple fluorescence is emitted by several compounds, but mainly from polyphenols. Besides, red/infra-red fluorescence is mostly derived from chlorophyll.
After collecting the rainbow spectrum emitted by vegetables or fruits, the spectrum will be converted into fluorescence intensity. The higher the fluorescence intensity (i.e. the stronger the fluorescence), the higher the antioxidant and chlorophyll contents in that vegetable or fruit. The fluorescence intensity will be plotted into a graph as below and uploaded to the cloud database.
The cloud database stores data collected by developers and users. Based on the extensive database, the above graph will be compared with previous samples, in order to generate a rating on mobile app, so that the user will know whether his/her sample’s antioxidant and chlorophyll contents are above or below the average among the database.
This project is funded by the Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living (FBL) Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material/event (or by members of the project team) do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Innovation and Technology Bureau or the FBL Assessment Panel.