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  • 25 Feb 2021

Edible holograms could be ‘printed’ on food

The new edible holograms could be ‘printed’ on food has said the International Hologram Manufacturers Association

The new edible holograms could be ‘printed’ on food has said the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA).

The news follows reports from the USA that scientists have molded edible holograms onto chocolate. Although it’s early days, and the process only works for certain types of confection, the development could open a host of new opportunities around the control and labeling of food.

Edible holograms offer a safe, rapid, and cost-effective way to ‘print’ important messages on food - they could be used to ensure better food safety, improve food labeling, or more clearly indicate ingredients and sugar content, says IHMA.

The new method relies on a solution of corn syrup, vanilla, and water which is dried into a thin film. It’s then coated with a fine layer of non-toxic black dye before a technique called direct laser interference patterning is used to etch off most of the dye, leaving behind raised, nanoscale lines that form a diffraction grating. It diffracts the light into a rainbow pattern, with different colors appearing at diverse angles of viewing. The intensity and range of colors can be controlled by varying the spacing between lines in the grating or the sugar content of the corn syrup. 

‘This is another example of how holography continues to find interesting new commercial applications. Innovation is pushing the boundaries of what holography can achieve, showing that there is plenty of mileage in this versatile and flexible technology,’ commented Dr Paul Dunn, chairman of IHMA. ‘The capacity to “print” holograms on food is another promising development, heralding innovative and exciting ways for the food industry to add value as manufacturers and producers look for new approaches.

‘Holograms are effective weapons in the frontline fight against counterfeiters and fraudsters, protecting brands and profits. Those involved in the food supply chain would be reassured by their presence on products, recognizing the security, brand enhancement and financial benefits provided.’ 

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