Understanding foods as soft materials

Nat Mater. 2005 Oct;4(10):729-40. doi: 10.1038/nmat1496.


Foods make up some of the most complex examples of soft condensed matter (SCM) with which we interact daily. Their complexity arises from several factors: the intricacy of components, the different aggregation states in which foods are encountered, and the multitude of relevant characteristic time and length scales. Because foodstuffs are governed by the rules of SCM physics but with all the complications related to real systems, the experimental and theoretical approaches of SCM physics have deepened our comprehension of their nature and behaviour, but many questions remain. In this review we discuss the current understanding of food science, by considering established SCM methods as well as emerging techniques and theoretical approaches. With their complexity, heterogeneity and multitude of states, foods provide SCM physics with a challenge of remarkable importance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / analysis*
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Colloids / analysis
  • Colloids / chemistry*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Food Analysis / methods*
  • Food*
  • Materials Testing / methods
  • Models, Chemical*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Colloids