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The color of blueberries has been explained by researchers, despite the presence of a dark red pigment in their skin.
The study revealed that the small formations in the wax layer of the berries are responsible for their appearance.
According to researchers at the University of Bristol, this also pertains to various fruits of the same color, such as damsons, sloes, and juniper berries.
Research fellow Rox Middleton from the School of Biological Sciences at Bristol explained that the blue color of blueberries cannot be obtained by squishing them, as it is not found in the pigmented juice that can be extracted from the fruit.
“We suspected the color was peculiar for a reason.”
“We eliminated the wax and re-formed it onto a card, resulting in a fresh blue-UV coating.”
Dr. Middleton stated that it was fascinating to discover a previously unknown process of coloration that occurs in common fruits that we regularly consume.
“It was particularly thrilling to successfully recreate that hue through the extraction of wax in order to produce a unique blue coating that has yet to be discovered.”
The ultimate goal is to incorporate the properties of natural wax into synthetic materials through engineering.
Although the pigments in blueberry skin may appear dark red, their blue hue is actually derived from a layer of wax that encases the fruit. This wax is composed of tiny structures that disperse blue and UV light.
According to researchers, this causes the fruit to have a blue appearance to both humans and certain birds.
According to the study, the color is created when light interacts with the haphazardly arranged crystal structures of the waxy coating.
The thin layer of color is only two microns thick. Despite its lower reflectivity, it appears blue and effectively reflects UV light. This could potentially lead to new methods of dyeing.
According to Dr Middleton, nature has developed a clever method using an ultrathin layer as a significant coloring agent.
Many plants have a thin layer of wax covering them, serving various purposes.
Several of these functions are currently unknown, however, it has proven to be highly efficient in its ability to act as a self-cleaning coating and repel water.
Prior to the recent research, which was published in the journal Science Advances, the significance of structure in regards to visible coloration was unclear to scientists.
The scientists intend to examine methods for replicating and using the coating, potentially resulting in a more environmentally-friendly, compatible, and even consumable UV and blue-reflective paint.