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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Seaweed gel transforms drops into edible beads

It could be the next trend in molecular gastronomy: quickly encapsulating a drop of liquid to create an edible bead. The technique, developed by Nicolas Bremond and colleagues at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry in Paris (ESPCI ParisTech), can package any liquid using a seaweed extract.

Bremond came up with the technique while collaborating with a master chef who wanted to put flavours in small compartments. To create liquid-filled beads, drops are coated with a seaweed solution. Then they're dropped into a calcium bath containing detergent, which causes the algae to harden and form a shell. Without detergent, the watery coating would still gel, but it would quickly mix with its liquid contents.

Beyond culinary creations, Bremond is using the method to package cancer cells and study them in a 3D environment. The permeable beads prevent cell contamination, while allowing drugs to flow in.

If you enjoyed this video, see how a laser technique can control the flow of liquids or watch the weird antics of charged drops of water.

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