May 2021
Vol 7, Issue 19

About The Cover

Cover image expansion

ONLINE COVER To help ease society's reliance on plastic, a major contributor to landfill waste, researchers previously proposed designing foods that can be flat-packed during transportation and storage, and later take on 3D shapes during preparation. One technique explored to aid the morphing of flour-based foods that met with some success was surface grooves, but previous research failed to reveal a reliable design to precisely yield specific shapes on-demand. To explore this mechanism, Tao et al. conducted simulations based on a polymeric gel model, then an edible pasta model, finding that they could accurately predict morphing in both materials. Next, the researchers demonstrated the mechanism and its ability to morph food by creating simple surface grooves in semolina flour dough while preparing an authentic Italian pasta recipe. The pasta swelled when they cooked it in boiling water, assuming 3D shapes based on the positioning of the grooves. Tao et al. modelled this swelling process, observing that the morphing caused by the surfaces grooves was temporary and reversible. Further experiments confirmed that the specific parameters of the grooves, including side angle, gap, width, and depth, are critical for determining how the pasta morphs into different 3D forms. [CREDIT: MORPHING MATTER LAB, CMU]