Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new way to change the structure of flat objects. In this case, we are talking about plates of gelatin and starch, which, in contact with water, turn into 3D structures of various colors and shapes.
“We did some simple calculations for pasta, ” says one of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Wen Wang. “Even if you pack them perfectly, it will still take up to 67% of the volume in the package. Our food products are flat in storage mode, which saves space during transportation. "
To achieve this effect, MIT first experimented with some bacteria that transform when in contact with moisture. Scientists went further and began to conduct experiments with "edible" materials, in particular, with gelatin, which, absorbing water, begins to expand. And if the product has a non-uniform density, then, once in water, it will acquire metamorphic forms.
So, for example, if the top layer of pasta is more dense and absorbs more water than the bottom, then the result is a slowly rising arch in the water. To achieve the maximum "controllability" effect, the researchers began to apply strips of food cellulose over layers of gelatin using the method of 3D printing.
Cellulose naturally absorbs very little water and therefore acts as a water barrier, allowing gelatin to take on a wide variety of configurations.