Edible meta-atoms

Metamaterials are artificial structures with unusual and superior properties that come from their carefully designed building blocks — also called meta-atoms. Metamaterials have permeated large swatches of science, including electromagnetics and mechanics. Although metamaterials hold the promise for realizing technological advances, their potential to enhance interactions between humans and materials has remained unexplored. Here, we devise meta-atoms with tailored fracture properties to control mouthfeel sensory experience. Using chocolate as a model material, we first use meta-atoms to control the fracture anisotropy and the number of cracks and demonstrate that these properties are captured in mouthfeel experience. We further use topology optimization to rationally design edible meta-atoms with maximally anisotropic fracture strength. Our work opens avenues for the use of meta-atoms and metamaterials to control fracture and to enhance human-matter interactions.