Food Biophysics

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 160–169 | Cite as

Structural Relaxation During Drying and Rehydration of Food Materials—the Water Effect and the Origin of Hysteresis

  • Dominique ChampionEmail author
  • Camille Loupiac
  • Denise Simatos
  • Peter Lillford
  • Philippe Cayot


The state of water in foodstuffs is a guiding principle in food design, and the equilibrium concept of water activity (Aw) is ubiquitous. It is regarded as a primary variable or “hurdle” in preservation technology, and a key variable influencing chemical reaction during storage. However, the amount of water in any system differs as function of water activity depending whether it is determined by water sorption or desorption. Even though this hysteresis behaviour has already been described in the literature, no physical interpretation of its origin has yet been proposed with respect to detailed molecular organisation. This work shows, for two different food powders, gluten and a milk-based product that the hysteresis disappears when either go through their glass transition. A more complete DSC analysis for gluten during different sorption/desorption cycles demonstrates that the hysteresis is dependent on the ageing of the material, which evolves in the glassy state and is induced by structural relaxation.


Sorption–desorption isotherm DSC Glass transition Enthalpy relaxation Physical ageing Protein 



The authors would like to thank referees for pointing out the similarities in this study to those on synthetic polymers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominique Champion
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Camille Loupiac
    • 1
  • Denise Simatos
    • 1
  • Peter Lillford
    • 1
    • 2
  • Philippe Cayot
    • 1
  1. 1.Team “Eau-Molécules actives-Macromolécules-Activités”Université de BourgogneDijonFrance
  2. 2.University of YorkYorkUK
  3. 3.Agrosup DijonDijonFrance

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