Superior Characterization of Sucrose Crystals in Chocolate Manufacturing with Atomic Force Microscopy and Local Thermal Analysis

Surface morphology of a sucrose particle as it appears in unground chocolate mass.

The velvety smooth texture of a fine chocolate is defined by the properties of very tiny particles and properties of cocoa, milk powder and sugar (sucrose) used in processing. Compared to x-ray diffraction and differential scanning calorimetry tools traditionally used to analyze crystalline states, atomic force microscopes (AFMs) have proven more successful at characterizing these properties due to their nanoscale resolution. They also have the ability to quantify adhesion and local thermal properties.

A new application note by Oxford Instruments Asylum Research, “Characterizing Sucrose Crystals in Chocolate Making with AFM and Ztherm Local Thermal Analysis”, describes AFM techniques and results for characterizing sucrose crystals in chocolate making. The application note can be downloaded at

The combination of our MFP-3D™ AFM and Ztherm™ local analysis is ideal for crystallization-recrystallization experiments. Ztherm applies heat through the AFM cantilever, which is then used to detect local thermally-induced changes in surface properties. We think this technique could extend beyond just chocolate making into other areas of food science where nanoscale characterization of topography and melting/hardening behaviors are of interest.

Ben Ohler, Marketing Director, Asylum Research

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