A sunlight-absorbing compound that exists naturally in microalgae has been discovered at the bottom of a Norwegian lake, and it could be used to create a more powerful sunscreen.
SINTEF, a research institute in northern Norway, has been dredging the Trondheim Fjord for several years and cataloging microorganisms that absorb sunlight. From one such organism, researchers have extracted a substance called sarcinaxanthin, which possesses a pigment that can absorb long wavelengths of UV radiation.
Why? Tell Me Why!: Sunburn
Researchers have genetically engineered the substance to create artificial bacteria, which is being farmed in on-site cultivation tanks; the idea being that larger quantities of sarcinaxanthin can then be added in sunscreen for sun-blocking fortification. Promar, a Norwegian company, intends to market the substance as "UVA-blue."
"Current sunscreen does not absorb longer UV light in the 320 to 470 nanometer range. We know that can cause skin cancer, too," Trygve Brautaset, the SINTEF's research director, told Fast Company. "The idea about sarcinaxanthin is to extend protection range for sunscreen to also cover these wave lengths, providing better overall protection."