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Chocolate physics: How modeling could improve 'mouthfeel'

Scientists have shown how the field of molecular dynamics could be a valuable tool in understanding chocolate 'conching' the part of the chocolate-making process where aromatic sensation, texture and 'mouthfeel' are developed

( Lecithin is an ingredient that you've probably never heard of, but one that plays a vital role in the production of chocolate and many other foods. It's never been clear how this ingredient works on a molecular level, and confectioners have relied on observational methods - essentially trial and error - to perfect their recipes. Now, scientists have shown how the field of molecular dynamics (simulation on a molecular level) could be a valuable tool in understanding chocolate conching - the part of the chocolate-making process where aromatic sensation, texture and 'mouthfeel' are developed. Writing today (26 August 2015) in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, the researchers, based at Technische Universität München, Germany, report that they were able to use molecular dynamics to gain new insights into the molecular interactions during chocolate conching. "There are many hypotheses on how lecithins work during the manufacturing of chocolate," explains Heiko Briesen, a lead author on the paper. "But we've been able to shed some light on the mechanism of this process." Asking the right question was the important first step according to Briesen. "Molecular dynamics only allows us to model scales of nanoseconds or nanometres - and this process happens in minutes or hours in reality." "But when we ask a specific enough question - like how does the lecithin molecule attach to the sugar surface - it can become incredibly powerful." Understanding this mechanism is a key question for food chemists, as the commonly used lecithin is sourced from soy beans, but a decreasing supply of non-genetically modified (GM) soy beans means that sourcing non-GM lecithin is increasing difficult. Without a way of simulating how different lecithins will affect the chocolate-making process they are reliant on trial-and-error. "I'm quite confident molecular dynamics will strongly support food science in the future" concludes Briesen.


Notes to Editors Contact For further information, a full draft of the journal paper or contact with one of the researchers, contact IOP Senior Press Officer, Steve Pritchard: Tel: 0117 930 1032 E-mail: For more information on how to use the embargoed material above, please refer to our embargo policy. IOP Publishing Journalist Area The IOP Publishing Journalist Area gives journalists access to embargoed press releases, advanced copies of papers, supplementary images and videos. Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing's journal platform. To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email the IOP Publishing Press team at, with your name, organisation, address and a preferred username. Chocolate physics: how modelling could improve 'mouthfeel'

The published version of the paper "Interactions between phospholipid head groups and a sucrose crystal surface at the cocoa butter interface" (Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 48 384002) will be freely available online from Wednesday 26 August. It will be available at

Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics is a major international journal reporting significant new results in all aspects of applied physics research. We welcome experimental, computational (including simulation and modelling) and theoretical studies of applied physics, and also studies in physics-related areas of biomedical and life sciences. The work must fall into one of the five sections below. If the work overlaps two or more journal sections then it can be submitted as an interdisciplinary applied physics paper. All work published in Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics must discuss applications or potential applications of the research presented. IOP Publishing IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide. Beyond our traditional journals programme, we make high-value scientific information easily accessible through an ever-evolving portfolio of books, community websites, magazines, conference proceedings and a multitude of electronic services. IOP Publishing is central to the Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit society. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of the Institute. Go to or follow us @IOPPublishing. Access to Research Access to Research is an initiative through which the UK public can gain free, walk-in access to a wide range of academic articles and research at their local library. This article is freely available through this initiative. For more information, go to The Institute of Physics The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, working together to advance physics education, research and application. We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications. In September 2013, we launched our first fundraising campaign. Our campaign, Opportunity Physics, offers you the chance to support the work that we do. Visit us at or follow us on Twitter @physicsnews


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[] Chocolate physics: How modeling could improve 'mouthfeel'
Scientists have shown how the field of molecular dynamics could be a valuable tool in understanding chocolate 'conching' the part of the chocolate-making process where aromatic sensation, texture and 'mouthfeel' are developed is a service of DragonFly Company. All Rights Reserved.
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