Colloidal systems have been studied extensively owing to their versatility in terms of the possibilities of innumerous types of textures/structures that can be obtained. Organogels or oleogels are colloidal soft materials that can be formed from different building blocks, and configure as an alternative for oil structuring and can be used as fat replacer in food formulations. Efficient pairs solvent/gelators are often found by serendipity as the mechanism involved in the assembly and network formation by gelators in organic solvents are still not totally elucidated. Lecithin organogels are formed from self-assembled structures that intertwine and are able to assume a 3D network configuration capable of trapping organic solvent, forming gel-like systems. Soybean lecithin is a naturally occurring, biocompatible surfactant approved for applications in a range of bio-related fields. The objective of this project will be to investigate the possibility of creating lecithin-based mixed component organogels after identifying its synergistic combinations with other edible structuring agents that can form building blocks such as crystalline particles, self-assembled structures and agglomerates of inorganic particles. These systems will be characterized according to their rheological, thermal and mechanical properties, in order to have a comparative evaluation between them. The main outcome of this study is to identify novel combinations of lecithin with other structuring agents to create edible organogels that display desired functionalities. Prof. Patel's group at Ghent University have reported many studies related to the physical characterization of a range of novel colloidal and polymeric organogels and it is currently recognized as one of the top groups in Europe in the field of edible oil structuring, therefore the exchange/collaboration with the Ghent University in Belgium will allow the transfer of knowledge on these poorly understood organogel. The extensive work and expertise acquired by Prof Patel in identifying novel materials to fabricate lipid-based soft matter systems will be essential for better understanding of mixed component gels created from lecithin and other structuring agents.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: