Just like out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, scientists have recognized a simple mechanism that can morph 2D structures into 3D forms. This could be a big help in reducing plastic waste from packaging.
The results from the study show how some food, such as pasta could be deposited in a flat, space saving form, and later cooked in boiling water to convert into its already known tridimensional silhouettes. This would relieve the world’s current dependence on plastic packaging; as well as simplifying the manufacturing processes, improving the efficacy in production and reducing costs.
However, similar proposals have been made before for designing foods that can be stored and transported in flat packages, and take on their full shapes after being prepared. Some of the previously studied techniques on flour-based foods have been somewhat successful, but the research has yet to provide an unfailing design that will produce specific shapes on demand.
Before discovering that they could exactly foresee morphing in both materials, Ye Tao and colleagues explored the mechanism and conducted simulations based on a polymeric gel model, and later an edible pasta model.
After that, said mechanism was revealed along with its ability to transform food by fashioning simple surface grooves in a traditional Italian pasta recipe, using semolina flour dough. The pasta took to its familiar tridimensional shape, depending on the position of the grooves, after being cooked in boiling water.
Tao and colleagues exhibited the process of distention, witnessing that the transformation produced by the surface indentations was reversible and momentary.
It was confirmed by later studies that the specific placement of the indentations, gaps, angles, width and depth, are extremely important for defining how the pasta converts into different forms. Economical industrial methods like engraving, laser etching, or molding and casting can be an effortless way to make said grooves.