Nano Snacks! Researchers Say Edible Nanostructures Taste Like Saltines

By Joseph Calamia | September 3, 2010 11:47 am

allnaturalWe’ve asked tiny nanostructures to thwart counterfeiters, heal wounds, and boost computing power. Now, we want to eat them. Researchers have made “all-natural metal-organic frameworks”–and hope their creations’ edible frames may find use storing small molecules in foods and medical devices.

Though researchers have made similar metal-organic frameworks since 1999, most of the structures require chemicals from crude oil. As described in a recently published Angewandte Chemie paper, this team has devised a cheaper method employing starch molecules leftover from corn production.

The trick was to make a substance crystallize as a highly ordered, symmetrical, porous framework. Getting tiny symmetrical structures from asymmetrical natural ingredients had seemed unlikely, but the team found the perfect molecule cages, using a special type of sugar (gamma-cyclodextrin) from the cornstarch and potassium salt. After dissolving gamma-cyclodextrin and potassium salt in water, they crystallized them to form the nano storage cubes.

Despite the sugar and salt combo, the nanostructures are not that tasty, team member Ronald Smaldone says in a press release:

“They taste kind of bitter, like a Saltine cracker, starchy and bland…. But the beauty is that all the starting materials are nontoxic, biorenewable and widely available…”

We also can’t imagine they’re that filling.

Related content:
Discoblog: How Butterfly Wing Patterns Could Thwart Counterfeiting Crooks
80beats: Nanoparticles + Stem Cells = Faster Healing Wounds
80beats: “DNA Origami” May Allow Chip Makers to Keep Up With Moore’s Law
80beats: Spitzer Telescope Finds Buckyballs… in Spaaace!

Image: flickr / Kerrie Longo

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar