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Food

Chemistry in Pictures: Really, really red lentils

by Manny I. Fox Morone
June 16, 2020

20200616lnp20-uvlight.jpg
Credit: Andres Tretiakov
20200616lnp20-light.jpg
Credit: Andres Tretiakov

Andres Tretiakov spotted these fluorescent red lentils after a string of what he calls “fluorescence scavenger hunts” in his kitchen while his lab is closed during the pandemic. Under ambient light (below), red lentils are a moderate-to-dull orange, but they really pop under an ultraviolet flashlight that creates 365 nm wavelength light (above). Tretiakov, who’s a lab technician at St. Paul’s School in London, isn’t exactly sure what chemicals in the lentils produce this color. Chlorophyll and protochlorophyllide both glow orange-red, but lentils can contain a bunch of other colorful (and nutritious) plant chemicals, like carotenoids and anthocyanins.

Submitted by Andres Tretiakov via Twitter using the hashtag #CENChemPics. You can follow @andrestrujado on Twitter and on Instagram.

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