A multifaceted group of scientists have created a type of flat pasta dough that upon cooking transforms into 3D shapes like waves, spirals, twists and tubes. The interdisciplinary team of innovators included scientists specializing in computer-aided fabrication, in material science, and in mechanical engineering. They believe that their flat pasta innovation can improve efficiency in the packaging and transport of a highly in demand products like instant-pasta.
The Director of the Morphing Matter Lab at the Carnegie Mellon University, Computer Science Professor Lining Yao, mentioned that their idea came from flat-packed furnitures. Their space-saving features reduced transportation-related carbon footprint and made storage easier, They noticed that with pasta demand coming from all over the world, the varying shapes like penne, fusilli, rigatoni and the likes, require large boxes and bags.
Design and Mechanism of the Morphing Flat Pasta
The study which was published in the Science Advances journal, showed the design principles and mechanism of how the flat pasta dough morphs into shapes during the cooking process. The scientist etched grooves on the pasta sheets, as doing so increases the time water needed to cook the grooved portions of the flat pasta.
Project leader Teng Zhang, an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University led the modeling analysis. The side with grooves expands less compared to the smooth size. Depending on which side the grooves are etched, the flat pasta transform into the desired shape of the familiar traditional pasta.
The team believes that their morphing pasta will not only save space in relation to shipping and storage, but will also help in reducing packaging wastes without losing the taste and appearance of a cooked pasta. As an aside, the team of scientists also remarked that the morphing technique is applicable to other products like biomedical devices, soft robotics and materials like silicon sheets.