A group of Australian scientists is working on super-thin chips made from lithium niobate, that might have potential applications in the field of remote ripening-fruit detection. RMIT University’s Distinguished Professor Arnan Mitchell and University of Adelaide’s Dr Andy Boes led a team of global experts to review lithium niobate’s capabilities and potential applications.
It seems this technology can also be used to remotely detect the ripeness of fruit. “Gas emitted by ripe fruit is absorbed by light in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum,” Prof Mitchell said. “A drone hovering in an orchard would transmit light to another which would sense the degree to which the light is absorbed and when fruit is ready for harvesting. Our microchip technology is much smaller, cheaper and more accurate than current technology and can be used with very small drones that won’t damage fruit trees.”