The soft matter food physics group at the Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research emphasises research on soft matter properties of food and food-type model systems including gels, emulsions, hydrocolloids, natural nano particles in foods, oleosomes, proteins, starches, semi-solid foods…. The main goals are to understand the non-equilibrium, multiscale molecular processes of foods and food model systems. These aspects distinguish the Mainz “Foodies” from many other groups studying food science.
The theoretical physicist Thomas A. Vilgis established the experimental soft matter food physics group as an interdisciplinary research unit in 2008. After his long time experience having worked on statistical mechanics of polymers, filled and unfilled elastomers, polymer blends, copolymers, polyelectrolytes, defects in proteins, translocation by analytical methods the “Mainz foodies” use these broad experiences, to study food systems between universality and required non universal details. These investigations results in process-structure-property-relationships, which connect basic fundamental research to macroscopic processes.
Thomas A. Vilgis additional research interests comprise the molecular function of taste inducing and bioactive food compounds, such as peptides, and the physical and chemical properties of aroma compounds. A further strong research topic became also the molecular aspects of nutrition, especially the mechanical, physical and chemical changes of food during oral processing and through the intestinal passage.