Development of Cellulose-Titanium dioxide-Porphyrin Nanocomposite Films with High-barrier, UV-blocking, and Visible Light-Responsive Antimicrobial Features

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The packaging does not serve as a mere containment but also can be designed to play a key role in preserving the product from quality-deteriorating factors, including oxygen, light irradiation, and foodborne pathogenic microorganisms (e.g., Escherichia coli). There has been a growing interest in employing ultra-porous metal-organic frameworks (MOF) with visible light-responsive antibacterial mechanisms to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can eliminate bacteria via an oxidative burst. MOF is made of inorganic metal ions/nodes/clusters/secondary building units linked by organic bridge ligands, where titanium dioxide (TiO2) and tetrakis(4-carboxyphenyl)porphyrin) (TCPP) were selected for these components, respectively. TiO2 is an exceptional UV-A/B/C-blocker; meanwhile, TCPP dye performs a remarkable photocatalytic ability even under visible light, on top of its macro-heterocyclic structure that is ideal as a MOF linker. Both have good compatibility but suffer from the notorious tendency to self-quench/aggregate. The incorporation of MOF-based conjugates into a polymeric matrix, like cellulose, is among the proven-successful solutions. Cellulose is the Earth's most abundant and naturally biodegradable, and cellulose nanofibril (CNF) was particularly chosen for its high specific surface area and surface activity. However, a straightforward, cheap, and environmentally friendly approach of multicycle homogenization (0-25 passes) was conducted to solve neat cellulose's challenge of natural hydrophilicity, where low pressure (<10 MPa) was applied to prevent the common over-shearing effect. The antibacterial efficacy of CNF films functionalized with TiO2-TCPP conjugate on inhibiting E. coli growth was analyzed with and without light of different intensities (3000 and 6000 lux). The positive impacts of CNFs' promoted fibrillation and subsequent inter/intra-molecular hydrogen bonding post-homogenization were evidenced in an array of functional properties, i.e., crystallinity, TiO2-TCPP conjugate dispersion, surface smoothness, mechanical properties, thermal stability, hydrophobicity, oxygen barrier (comparable to ethylene-vinyl alcohol (EVOH), a commercial high-barrier polymer), and 100%-antibacterial rate (under 6000 lux after 72 hours). Varying optimum cycles of homogenization demonstrated the prospect of the proposed homogenization approach in preparing CNF with diverse processability and applicability. These findings also exhibited a promising potential for a myriad of high-barrier, UV-blocking, and/or visible light-responsive antibacterial film applications, including food packaging and biomedical.



Cellulose nanofibrils (CNF), Titanium dioxide (TiO2), Porphyrinic metal-organic framework (MOF), Photosensitive antibacterial agents, Homogenization cycles/passes