This paper studied the relationship between matrix microstructure of plant materials and drying behavior using Astragalus and Chinese Angelica root slices as examples. Astragalus and Chinese Angelica, two kinds of traditional Chinese Medicine Herb (CMH), are species of stem and root medicinal herb with the widely curative effects. Based on the measured results by using automatic surface area-porosity analyzer (at smaller scale ≤ 100nm), the volume fractal dimensions (DV) were estimated to characterize the pore size distribution inside matrix of samples dried by different drying technologies, including microwave drying at 200W and conventional hot air drying at 60 °C. In cases studied in this paper, the values of DV are well related with drying time. As compared to hot air dried sample, DV of microwave dried sample increases by 5.9% for Astragalus, while 7.7% for Chinese Angelica. In comparison with hot air drying, the microwave drying time is reduced to 1/6 (30min/180 min) for Astragalus, while 1/16 (50min/810min) for Chinese Angelica. Combined the observation of SEM images of sample, our findings is that, higher fractal dimension, less concentration of pore size distribution, better connectivity of pore or channel with multi-scale characteristics (aperture about 0.1μm–1μm, plasmodesma about 1nm–10nm, or 10Å–100Å), much loose distribution of cytoplasm inside parenchyma cells, better permeability of moisture transfer path during drying process, shorter drying time. Our results demonstrate that the volume fractal dimension (DV) of pore size distribution at smaller scale (≤ 100nm) could give a better understanding the mass transfer behavior of plant materials.

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