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CeNS Colloquium

Place: Kleiner Physik-Hörsaal, Geschwister-Scholl-Platz
Date: 17.07.09, Time: 15:30 h

Food Physics: Soft and Pleasurable Matter

Thomas Vilgis
Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz

Our daily food is definitely ruled by all sorts of polymers, which may be polyelectrolytes, proteins, amphiphilic molecules etc. Their structure, function and elementary properties define many structural properties of food. In this talk we will show in various examples, how well-known principles in soft matter physics, colloid physics and physical chemistry can be used to understand various kitchen techniques. The nicely appreciated properties of foams, emulsions, or hydrogels have their reasons in elementary molecular processes. Most of them show already up in the everyday life and everyday “food processing” in industry and kitchen, e.g., when we prepare creams, cook meat, vegetables and pasta, or produce stable foams in all variations.
Physically oriented food science is an interdisciplinary field where even chefs and scientist start discussions of a new kind of materials research. Naturally the fine mechanical sensor “mouth” is able to detect tiny differences in softness, brittleness, melting, and particle sizes. Most of such physical properties define also the “aroma release”. As a result: taste becomes a physical quantity and the usual structure property relationship in materials research must be extended to a structure – property – taste relationship in molecular gastronomy. The development of special “food systems” with well-defined properties, such as hydrogels, hydrocolloids, enzymes and proteins are of help. The structure – property relationship, well known in materials science, extents itself to a more complicated "structure – property – taste" – relation in food science. In this talk I present some examples of current interest and integrate the field into soft matter and materials research.