Physical properties of foods (including thermal, mechanical, rheological, dielectric, barrier properties, and water activity) are important for the proper design of food processing, handling, and storage systems.  Various food processing methods can potential alter those physical properties and cause desirable or sometimes no so desirable changes in nutrient profiles, texture, color, taste, aroma and other quality attributes. Therefore, it is important to investigate the physical and the impacted chemical properties of foods to gain insights on how they affect the quality attributes.

To study physical properties foods, we use several advanced instruments that include the following:
(1) Discovery DSC to investigate thermal properties, including Tg;
(2) Discovery TGA to study decomposition and water loss kinetics;
(3) DMA to probe viscoelastic properties and other relaxation phenomena;
(4) Advanced rheometers used to study food rheology and structure

The principles of food engineering, including study of physical properties of foods, biopolymer material characterization, and their relationship to emerging food processing technologies are investigated and covered in FS432 Food engineering, FS 433 (Food engineering laboratory), and FS303 Food processing classes in the School of Food Science (See catalog description for these courses). Graduate students taking FS538 Physical Properties of Foods have an opportunity to learn how to use DSC, DMA, advanced rheometer, TGA, Water activity meter, and Karl Fischer titrator to characterize food properties. These courses plus others listed in our School of Food Science curriculum are important for acquiring the critical thinking and practical skills needed for successful employment in the food industry.