SISSA - Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati

04/12/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/12/2021 02:03

Quantum physics in candy blue: this is how cutting-edge innovation is done

The sophisticated and abstract tools of theoretical physics were used in an innovative applied research project: to identify a natural colouring to produce chocolate 'confetti' candies. This was the task undertaken by the scientists at SISSA and CNR-IOM in a research that translated scientific excellence into produced innovation in the most refined and unexpected manner. The work by SISSA and CNR-IOM was part of a large international collaboration whose results were just published in the magazine 'Science Advances'.

In their investigation, the research group in Trieste used computer simulations based on the principles of quantum mechanics to identify the molecular mechanism underlying the different shades of blue in plants, from the delicate tint of flowers to the intense purple of black raspberries, eggplants, or red wine. Specifically, the research group discovered what changes had to be made to the structure of anthocyanin - the pigment responsible for these colours - to obtain different shades of colour. This work allowed a major food company, Mars Wrigley, to patent a natural anthocyanin-based alternative to the artificial 'Brilliant Blue' normally used to colour their chocolate candies. In particular, the work done by SISSA and CNR-IOM helped laboratory chemists aim in the right direction, suggesting them the structure of the pigment that would produce the desired tone of colour. The molecule in question is present in abundance in red cabbage, from which it will be extracted to produce the colouring agent.

Image by Foodifactor for Pixabay

Press release