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Preparation and characterization of nanocellulose reinforced semi-interpenetrating polymer network of chitosan hydrogel

Sampath, U. G. Thennakoon Mudiyanselage, Ching, Yern Chee, Chuah, Cheng Hock, Singh, Ramesh, Lin, Pai-Chen
Cellulose 2017 v.24 no.5 pp. 2215-2228
X-ray diffraction, acid hydrolysis, cellulose, chitosan, crosslinking, drugs, glutaraldehyde, hydrogels, mechanical properties, nanocrystals, pH, polymers, sulfuric acid, tissue engineering
Semi-interpenetrating polymer network hydrogels with improved mechanical properties and remarkable sensitivity toward pH changes were prepared using chitosan reinforced with cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). Glutaraldehyde was used as a crosslinker because of its high reactivity toward the amine groups of chitosan. In this study, rod-shaped CNCs that were approximately 200–300 nm in length and 40–50 nm in width were prepared from microcrystalline cellulose via sulfuric acid hydrolysis. CNC ratios of 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5% were selected to study the effects of CNCs on the mechanical properties and swelling behavior of the chitosan hydrogel. The crosslinking reaction between chitosan and glutaraldehyde was confirmed by the presence of a –C=N stretching group at 1548 cm⁻¹ in the Fourier transform infrared spectrum of chitosan hydrogel. The crosslinking degree of the chitosan hydrogel was 83.6%. The X-ray diffraction patterns confirmed that adding CNCs induced a combination of amorphous and crystalline regions in the hydrogel matrix. Mechanical tests showed that the maximum compression of the chitosan hydrogel increased from 25.9 ± 1 to 50.8 ± 3 kPa with increasing CNC content from 0 to 2.5%. CNC-chitosan hydrogels exhibited excellent pH sensitivity and producing the maximum swelling ratio under acidic condition (pH 4.01). On the basis of the results of this study, we assume that the improved mechanical properties and excellent pH sensitivity of the CNC-chitosan hydrogels will expand their application scopes in various fields, such as tissue engineering, pharmaceuticals, and drug delivery.