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Now We're Cooking With Lasers

By Columbia Engineering

September 20, 2021

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Researchers at Columbia Engineering have digitized food creation and cooking processes, using 3D printing technology to tailor food shape and texture and lasers of various wavelengths to cook it.

"Precision Cooking for Printed Foods via Multiwavelength Lasers," published in npj Science of Food, explores various modalities of cooking. The researchers printed chicken samples as a test bed and assessed a range of parameters. They found that blue lasers (445 nm) are best for penetrative cooking, and infrared lasers (980 nm and 10.6 μm) best for browning. Laser-cooked meat shrinks 50% less and retains double the moisture as meat cooked in conventional ovens.

"Our two blind taste-testers preferred laser-cooked meat to the conventionally cooked samples, which shows promise for this burgeoning technology," says Jonathan Blutinger, a Ph.D. student in the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University.

 "What we still don't have is what we call 'Food CAD,' sort of the Photoshop of food," says Professor Hod Lipson, lead author of the study. "We need a high level software that enables 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."

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