How Can You Tell Whether Corn Is Fungus-Ridden?

ugh not for an automated test in grain factories. For this the chemists are investigating a similar technique called Transient Infrared Emission Spectroscopy (TIRS), which is better for spotting infected kernels on a conveyor belt.

TIRS was devised by John McClelland of Iowa State University in Ames, who realised that heated kernels also emit small amounts of infrared light at specific wavelengths, and that these wavelengths vary depending on the health of the grain. Because the emissions are short-lived, kernels can be heated and tested with TIRS as they pass by on a factory production line.

Greene does not envisage either FTIR-PAS or TIRS replacing the fluorescence test. "We don't know why yet but the different approaches seem to miss different infected grains." A combination of the two could weed out even more of the infected kernels, he says.


Contact: Claire Bowles
New Scientist

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