Professor Anderson H.C. Shum of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and his team had worked on the research for the topic “Future foods: Design, fabrication and production through microfluidics”. The research is recently published by Biomaterials on June 17, 2022.
Details of the publication:
Future foods: Design, fabrication and production through microfluidics
Xiufeng Li, Baihao You, Ho Cheung Shum, Chia-Hung Chen, Article in Biomaterials,
Many delicious foods are soft matter systems with health ingredients and unique internal structures that provide rich nutrition, unique textures, and popular flavors. Obtaining these special properties in food products usually requires specialized processes. Microfluidic technologies have been developed to physically manipulate liquids to produce a broad range of microunits, providing a suitable approach for precise fabrication of functional biomaterials with desirable interior structures in a bottom-up fashion. In this review, we present how microfluidics has been applied to produce gel-based structures and highlight their use in fabricating novel foods, focusing on, among others, cultured meat as a rapidly growing field in food industry. We first discuss the behaviors of food liquids in microchannels for fluidic structure design. Then, different types of microsized building blocks with specific geometries fabricated through microfluidics are introduced, including particles (point), fibers (line), and sheets (plane). These well-defined units can encapsulate or interact with cells, forming microtissues to construct meat products with desirable architectures. After that, we review approaches to scale up microfluidic devices for mass production of the hydrogel building blocks and highlight the challenges associated with bottom-up food production.