Renewable Natural Polymer Thin Films and Their Interactions with Biomacromolecules

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Virginia Tech

Natural polymers from renewable resources have attracted increasing interest as candidates for renewable energy and functional materials. In this work, the interactions between natural polymer thin films and biomacromolecules were studied via surface analysis techniques, such as a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and atomic force microscopy (AFM).

Chitinase activity on regenerated chitin (RChitin) films was studied by QCM-D and AFM. The optimal temperature and pH for chitinase activity on surfaces determined by QCM-D and AFM were consistent with bulk solution studies in the literature. Results from QCM-D also indicated that chitinase showed higher activity on fully acetylated chitin than highly deacetylated chitosan.

Nanocrystalline chitin (Chitin NC) thin films were prepared by spincoating a nanocrystalline chitin colloidal suspension onto solid surfaces. Solvent exchange experiments via QCM-D with H2O/D2O revealed that Chitin NC films had more water than RChitin films of similar thickness. Results from QCM-D demonstrated that Chitin NC films had high bovine serum albumin loading capacity, and chitinase not only degraded, but also caused swelling of the chitin nanocrystals.

Adsorption of human serum albumin (HSA) and fibrinogen (HFN) onto bare gold, regenerated cellulose (RC) and RChitin thin films was studied by SPR and QCM-D. Studies by SPR indicated that HSA and HFN formed close-packed monolayers on gold surfaces and sub-monolayers on polysaccharide surfaces, and the adsorption affinity of HSA for polysaccharide surfaces was greater than that of HFN. Results from QCM-D and SPR showed that the protein layers on polysaccharide surfaces had more associated water than proteins on gold surfaces.

The dehydrogenative polymerization of monolignols catalyzed by physically immobilized horseradish peroxidase was investigated using QCM-D and AFM. Results from QCM-D and AFM showed that coniferyl and p-coumaryl alcohol underwent polymerization directly, whereas sinapyl alcohol required the addition of a nucleophile for polymerization. Studies by QCM-D and AFM also indicated that the surface-initiated polymerization was greatly affected by the support surface, monolignol concentration, hydrogen peroxide concentration and temperature.

Thin films of dehydrogenative polymer (DHP), kraft (KL), organosolv (OL) and milled wood (MWL) lignins were used to study the enzymatic degradation of lignin mediated by lignin peroxidase (LiP) and manganese peroxidase (MnP). Results from QCM-D showed that the initial rates for degradation catalyzed by LiP increased in the order: KL < OL < MWL < guaiacyl DHP (G-DHP) < p-hydroxyphenyl DHP (H-DHP). In contrast, manganese peroxidase only degraded DHP films with a faster initial rate for G-DHP than H-DHP.

Adsorption of hemicelluloses onto KL, OL and MWL thin films was studied by QCM-D and SPR. Results from QCM-D showed that hemicelluloses with different structures displayed very different adsorption behavior. Adsorption isotherms from QCM-D and SPR indicated that xyloglucan possessed stronger affinity for KL and OL films than MWL films. Data from QCM-D and SPR revealed that xyloglucan formed less hydrated layers on lignin surfaces compared to RC surfaces, and the adsorbed xyloglucan layers on different lignin films had similar percentages of coupled water.

Chitin, Lignin, Cellulose, Hemicelluloses, Proteins, Thin Films, Enzymatic Degradation, Adsorption, Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation Monitoring, Surface Plasmon Resonance, Atomic Force Microscopy