Understanding the Impact of Cellulose and Chitin-Based Nanomaterials in Various Polymer Matrix Constructs
Irvin, Cameron William
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Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and chitin nanofibers (ChNFs) derived from trees and crab shells, respectively, were incorporated into poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) to generate tricomponent polymer composites. Nanomaterial processing conditions generated CNCs that were left with a negative surface charge, while ChNFs possessed a positive surface charge. Their subsequent incorporation into PVA offered the unique ability to generate nanocomposite films, hydrogels, and aerogels without the aid of additional chemicals, which allowed for assessment of how reinforcement transferred between constructs and expanded the range of commercial applications that CNCs and ChNFs can be applied. Results of this study indicated that specific ratios between CNCs and ChNFs enhanced the mechanical properties beyond that of what is capable with singular nanofillers, which was attributed to electrostatic and particle shape/size synergy between the nanomaterial components. These materials were generated into a hydrogel/aerogel hybrid composite material for a biomimetic medical device.