Plastic fats consist of a three dimensional network structure of crystals in which liquid oil is trapped. This crystal network is held together by weak attractive forces, the nature of which is nut definitely e stablished. Crystal size is dependent on temperature history and is subject to polymorphic transitions which greatly affect the microstructure of the system. The microstructure of fats has been investigated by using polarized light microscopy, electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis . Recently, a permeametric method has been developed which enables the determination of the specific surface area of the crystals in a fat. This method is a useful complement of the microscopic techniques. Scanning electron microscopy has not been widely used in studying fat crystal structures . The use of microscopy in the study o f microstructure of emulsions presents even greater problems than In the fat field . Emulsifiers may form liquid crystalline mesophases which may be studied by polarized light microscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis.
deMan, J. M.
"Microscopy in the Study of Fats and Emulsions,"
Food Structure: Vol. 1
, Article 10.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/foodmicrostructure/vol1/iss2/10