Friday, January 27, 2023

Scientists Have Designed the “Perfect Chocolate” and the Secret Is in Physics

There are many factors affecting the quality of chocolate. The combination of sweet and bitter taste, the ingredients used to make it… and the texture. It is precisely this last variable that some Dutch physicists believe they can control. The key lies in so-called metamaterials,


But what is a metamaterial? These are materials with different properties that can be combined with traditional natural materials. These properties are related to its interaction with different waves (usually electromagnetic ones). They achieve this thanks to their microstructure with dimensions smaller than those of the waves with which they interact.

The research team decided to see whether what they had learned about these ingredients could have culinary applications, and they began by investigating whether they could make a chocolate bar based on these principles. for this he used Chocolate mix with 72% cocoa that they later dissembled to recreate it with the help of a 3D printer.

The researchers tested some shapes for these chocolate bars, some S-shaped, others more complex. Through laboratory tests, the researchers were able to verify how each shape behaved when subjected to pressure, ie when they simulated a consumer’s bite.

The process and laboratory tests for making these forms were published through an article in the journal Chocolate. soft material, In it they explain in detail how managed to control how the chocolate broke The tests to which it was subjected and how it ruptured depended on the methods used by the researchers.

The texture of food is important, and it seems that crunchiness gives us more pleasure when we eat. One hypothesis suggests that this is possible because we associate the crunchy texture with fresh foods. The researchers gave a group of participants a taste of the chocolate they had made.

was the goal Check whether this new control over the texture of the chocolate has an effect on the experience of consumers. Although this second trial was not included in the article, the investigators were pleased with the trial. The physics of food is undoubtedly curious.

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In addition to institutions such as the University of Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology, one of food giant Unilever’s innovation centers participated in the study. The development of new technologies may prove to be crucial in the coming decades to make our food more nutritious and tastier. For example in the field of space exploration.

Getting food into orbit (and once it’s there, eating it) is more complicated than it sounds. One option is to pulverize the food and recreate it in space with the help of water and a 3D printer. It’s easy in theory, but can be Correcting the texture of some foods is beyond the reach of these ingenuities, This is where metamaterials can help, providing that all-important last touch to our palate.

But the tasks typically sought for metamaterials are usually far from baking. However, in a very different area such as road safety, control over the way a material breaks down can be of utmost importance. Creating helmets and bodies that absorb impacts, protecting wearers and occupants, for example, is one of the uses these metamaterials can be given.

And the uses go on, from the creation of super lenses that can help us see what conventional lens materials avoid to those that can protect our buildings from the seismic waves of earthquakes, passing through a cloak of invisibility that Now the story belongs to the realms of fantasy and science.

“Since metamaterials are still in their infancy There is a lot of potential in this fieldexplained Fabio Valoppi from the University of Helsinki, who was not involved in the creation of the chocolate bar. “We have a limited number of materials with limited properties on Earth. The beauty of metamaterials (in both their edible and non-edible forms) is that by adding certain shapes and architectures to similar materials with limited properties, we can achieve new functionality.

Imagen | Tatiana Bykovets

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