Shape-Shifting Noodles Transform From 2D To 3D In Water
Researchers at MIT developed edible films that blossom into different pasta shapes when cooked in water
Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have engineered shape-shifting noodles in a project called ‘Transformative Appetite.’ The team, led by Wen Wang and Lining Yao, developed a method of producing 2D edible films that transform into 3D pasta shapes when put into water.
Their concept uses common food materials—protein, cellulose and starch—to create flat films that expand and change shapes through water adsorption. This futuristic approach to food would open up possibilities for ultra-slim packaging, resulting in more economical shipping and storage.
To exhibit their designs in action, Wang and Yao turned to chef Matthew Delisle of the high-end Boston restaurant L’Espalier. Delisle crafted a selection of dishes, shown in the video below, that demonstrate the project’s three application techniques: 2D-to-3D folding (flat films transform into pasta shapes), hydration-induced wrapping (films placed in water curl to surround another ingredient, like the pastry shells of cannoli) and temperature-induced self-fragmentation (long noodles break apart in hot broth).
Wang and Yao used a laboratory 3D printer to make their pasta but noted that the designs can also be produced with more widely available techniques like screenprinting, Engineering.com reports. The Transformative Appetite team presented the research paper on their findings at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Computer-Human Interaction Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in May.
According to Yao, the noodles cooked up by Delisle “had great texture and tasted pretty good.”
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