Science Breaks
Join Professor Maria Charalambides for Science Breaks as she discusses her work on engineering better-tasting, healthier chocolate.

Chocolate is not an obvious material for a mechanical engineer to investigate. And yet the pleasurable, melt in your mouth experience of our favourite sweet treat, though an extremely complex process, it is one which can be unravelled and investigated in great detail through engineering methods. This talk will summarise an interdisciplinary collaboration within the Department of Mechanical Engineering which aims to shed light on how chocolate snaps, breaks, melts and interacts with the oral surfaces; and how these chain of events ‘work’ together to become a valuable enterprise.

By adapting traditional and novel analysis methods, Maria Charalambides, Professor in Mechanics of Materials at Imperial College London and her collaborators, have developed tools to understand, predict and optimise chocolate’s behaviour in the oral process, by taking into account its microstructural make-up. During her Science Breaks talk she will discuss how this work could not only be improving the enjoyment of our favourite treat, but also aid the design of healthier alternatives that still give the sensory reward.


Professor Maria Charalambides, CEng, FIMechE, is the head of the Soft Solids Research group. She is currently the Head of the Mechanics of Materials Research Division of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Prior to her appointment at Imperial as a Lecturer in 1997, she was a Research Associate in the same Department and a Senior Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Middlesex.

Her published research includes material modelling and mechanical characterisation of soft polymeric solids and specifically foods, micromechanics models of particulate filled polymeric composites as well as cellular structures, experimental and numerical modelling of industrial food processes such as rolling, extrusion and cutting, development of inverse indentation methods material characterisation of polymers, and fracture and deformation in paint and adhesive coatings. She is currently teaching Mechanics and Advanced Stress Analysis courses; she has lectured Mathematics and Composites Materials courses in the past.

Maria has published over 100 papers and has received funding from industry and RCUK. Her papers were selected as finalist for the 2013 Cahn Prize and Best paper for the IMechE Food Engineer Awards (2007 & 2011). She has been a council member of the British Society of Rheology and a Committee member of the Food and Drink Technical Committee of IMechE. Maria has a First Class B.Eng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College London. She also holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, from Imperial College London, on the Delamination of Fibre Reinforced Polymer Composites.

Science Breaks

Science Breaks is a virtual event series showcasing the impact and relevance of Imperial’s research and work taking place at the College.

Registration is now closed. Add event to calendar
See all events