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The Future of Pasta is Shape-Shifting Flat Sheets of Noodles

MIT developed pasta that can form into 3D shapes when submerged in water.

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The pasta that we eat can only soften when immersed in water. Not shape-shifting or anything. But researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology thought of that and made one of their own.

A team at MIT’s Tangible Media Group invented what is considered to be an edible origami, which is made of gelatin and starch that starts as flat sheets and forms into three-dimensional structures when submerged in water. That includes common pasta shapes such as macaroni and rotini, among others.

The shape-shifting pasta is 3D-printed. It is made of three layers, the two of which are gelatin of two different densities. The top layer of gelatin is more densely packed, and thus able to absorb more water, than the bottom gelatin. Above the gelatin are strips of edible cellulose which provide for the control where and to what degree the structure bends.

Not only that, the engineers were able to create flat discs that wrap around beads of caviar, similar to cannoli, and also spaghetti that spontaneously divides into smaller noodles when placed in hot broth.

As to its taste, lead author Lining Yao said that it “tasted pretty good” and they had “great texture.”

Wen Wang, a co-author on the paper, compared about the advantage of this kind of pasta, which allows a big savings in space in shipping. The shape-shifting pasta could be stacked together and only morph into their final shape when immersed in water.

Source: MIT News

“We did some simple calculations, such as for macaroni pasta, and even if you pack it perfectly, you still will end up with 67 percent of the volume as air. We thought maybe in the future our shape-changing food could be packed flat and save space,” Wang said.

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Meanwhile, Hiroshi Ishii, the Jerome B. Wiesner Professor in media arts and sciences and also an author on the paper, said about the shape-shifting pasta as a culinary performance art, “This project is the one of the latest to materialize our vision of  ‘radical atoms’ — combining  human interactions with dynamic physical materials, which are transformable, conformable, and informable.”

Source: MIT News

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