Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mmm, sounds tasty!

08.02.2006


In a unique double discovery, researchers at the University of Leeds have shown that massive bursts of ultrasound are generated during the first second of biting into crunchy food – and are simultaneously analysed by the ears and mouth.



Food physicist Professor Malcolm Povey explains: “Food is, in effect, talking to us and we innately understand what it’s saying about texture by interpreting the sensations through our ears and mouths. Our research shows that the sound and feel of food in the mouth is as important as taste, look and smell in deciding whether we like something or not.”

Using a microphone, an acoustic microscope, some simple software and an enviable supply of different biscuits, Professor Povey realised that the energy produced by the very first crack of a biscuit breaking is released as distinct pulses of ultrasound – sound waves beyond the range of human hearing.


Slowed down and plotted onto a graph, the pulses can be seen as a series of tall peaks, but actually last only for milliseconds and are generated at frequency levels more usually associated with bats, whales and dolphins for echolocation.

“It’s a good job we can’t hear all the energy in these pulses,” says Povey, “as they would damage our ears if we did. They’re enormously loud bangs – often way beyond safe decibel levels.”

The discovery of recordable ultrasound pulses is expected to be of great interest to the food manufacturers, who in the pursuit of the perfect crispy/crunchy texture for their products, employ an army of trained tasting panels. These people form the crux of manufacturers’ efforts at product consistency and quality control in terms of creating the optimum texture for a product.

The technique of recording the sound of biting or breaking crispy food and simply counting the peaks of soundwaves provides a cheap, quantifiable and accurate analysis of texture, that will ensure absolute product consistency: “The more peaks, the crispier it is – it’s as simple as that,” says Povey.

The research also demonstrates that the human mouth is extremely accurate in its innate analysis of these ultrasound pulses. Test results show a very high correlation to the machine-measured results by both professional tasters working in the food industry and untrained volunteers. “We had no idea that the human ears and mouth were so adept at capturing and analysing this information, especially in the space of milliseconds; it’s incredible,” he says.

“We’re not trying to replace tasting panels,” he insists, “in fact we need them to calibrate the instruments. But a machine-measured test is a quick and simple way to check consistency of products once the desired texture for a product has been decided. However, the research does suggest that the training of food tasters in respect of measuring crispness is probably unnecessary.”

Povey is convinced that the same ultrasound measuring techniques could potentially be applied to other textures in food manufacturing as well as having major applications outside the food industry.

“Essentially our methods measure what happens when a material fails,” explains Povey. “So this technique could easily be transferred to industry to detect failures in materials used in engineering or the aerospace industry, for instance.

“Materials testing usually requires expensive equipment, but we’ve proved that recording, measuring and comparing sound pulses is rigorous and accurate. In the same way engineers used to tap wheels on railway engines to listen for faults, we can use these microphones to record a much wider frequency range to pick up tiny defects. Its potential is enormous.”

Hannah Love | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>