Now we cook with lasers



image: Chicken cooked by a blue laser. The light is directed by two software-controlled mirror galvanometers.
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Credit: Jonathan Blutinger / Columbia Engineering

New York, NY — September 17, 2021 — Imagine having your own personal digital chef; ready to cook whatever you want; able to adapt the shape, texture and flavor just for you; and everything is done at the push of a button. Engineers from Colombia worked on doing just that, using lasers for cooking and 3D printing technology to put food together.

Guided by Mechanical Engineering Professor Hod lipson, the “Digital Food” team of its Creative machines laboratory has built a fully autonomous digital personal chef. Lipson’s group has been developing 3D printed food since 2007. Since then, food printing has evolved into multi-ingredient prints and has been explored by researchers and a few commercial companies.

“We noticed that although printers can produce ingredients with millimeter precision, there is no heating method with this same degree of resolution,” said Jonathan Blutinger, PhD in Lipson’s lab who has led the project. “Cooking is essential for the development of the nutrition, flavor and texture of many foods, and we wondered if we could develop a method with lasers to precisely control these attributes. “

In a new study published on September 1, 2021, by npj Food Science, the team explored various cooking modalities by exposing blue light (445 nm) and infrared light (980 nm and 10.6 m) to the chicken, which they used as a model food system. They printed chicken samples (3mm thick by ~ 1in2 zone) as a test bed and evaluated a range of parameters including cooking depth, color development, moisture retention and flavor differences between laser-cooked meat and laser-cooked meat. oven. They found that laser cooked meat shrinks 50% less, retains double the moisture content, and shows similar flavor development to conventionally cooked meat.

Video 01 – Robots that Cook: precision cooking with multi-wavelength lasers
Video 02 – Precision cooking with multi-length lasers: temperature data

“In fact, our two blind tasters preferred laser-cooked meat over conventionally cooked samples, which shows promise for this burgeoning technology,” said Blutinger.

If Lipson and Blutinger are excited by the possibilities of this new technology, whose hardware and software components are quite low-tech, they find that there is not yet a sustainable ecosystem to support it. Lipson states that “what we still don’t have is what we call ‘Food CAD’, a kind of Photoshop of food. We need high level software that allows people who are not programmers or software developers to design the foods they want. And then we need a place where people can share digital recipes, like we share music. ”

Yet, says Blutinger, “food is something that we all interact and personalize on a daily basis.

About the study

The article is titled “Precision Cooking for Printed Foods Using Multiple Wavelength Lasers”.

Journal: npj Food Science

The authors are: Jonathan Blutinger, Alissa Tsai, Erika Storvick, Gabriel Seymour, Elise Liu, Noà Samarelli, Shravan Karthik, Yorán Meijers and Hod Lipson, Departments of Mechanical and Computer Engineering, Columbia Engineering.

This work was supported in part by Columbia University’s SEAS Interdisciplinary Research SIRS (SIRS) funding program and the NSF NRI Award # 1925157.

The authors do not declare any financial or other conflict of interest.


DOI: 10.1038 / s41538-021-00107-1
Video 01 – Robots that Cook: precision cooking with multi-wavelength lasers
Video 02 – Precision cooking with multi-length lasers: temperature data


British Engineering

Columbia Engineering, based in New York City, is one of the best engineering schools in the United States and one of the oldest in the country. Also known as the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School expands knowledge and advances technology through the research of more than 220 professors, while training undergraduate students. and graduate studies in a collaborative environment to become leaders informed by a solid foundation in engineering. . The school’s faculty are at the center of the university’s interdisciplinary research, contributing to the Data Science Institute, the Earth Institute, the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, the Precision Medicine Initiative, and the Columbia Nanμmo Initiative. Guided by its strategic vision, “Columbia Engineering for Humanity”, the school aims to translate ideas into innovations that promote a sustainable, healthy, secure, connected and creative humanity.

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