Microwave oven

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A microwave oven, or simply a microwave, is a kitchen appliance that heats food by dielectric heating. This is accomplished by using microwave radiation to heat polarized molecules within the food. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being more evenly heated throughout (except in dense objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.

Basic microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently, but, unlike conventional ovens, do not brown or bake food. This makes them unsuitable for cooking certain foods, or to achieve certain culinary effects. Additional kinds of heat sources can be added to microwave packaging, or into combination microwave ovens, to add these additional effects.

Contents

History

The use of high-frequency electric fields for heating dielectric materials had been proposed in 1934, for example US patent 2,147,689 (application by Bell Telephone Laboratories, dated 1937) states "This invention relates to heating systems for dielectric materials and the object of the invention is to heat such materials uniformly and substantially simultaneously throughout their mass. ... It has been proposed therefore to heat such materials simultaneously throughout their mass by means of the dielectric loss produced in them when they are subjected to a high voltage, high frequency field."

The heating effect of microwaves was discovered accidentally in 1945. Percy Spencer, an American self-taught engineer from Howland, Maine, was building magnetrons for radar sets with the American company Raytheon. He was working on an active radar set when he noticed that a peanut chocolate bar he had in his pocket started to melt. The radar had melted his chocolate bar with microwaves. The first food to be deliberately cooked with Spencer's microwave was popcorn, and the second was an egg, which exploded in the face of one of the experimenters.[1][2] To verify his finding, Spencer created a high density electromagnetic field by feeding microwave power into a metal box from which it had no way to escape. When food was placed in the box with the microwave energy, the temperature of the food rose rapidly.

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