Effects of Chitosan Molecular Weight and Degree of Deacetylation on Chitosan-Cellulose Nanocrystal Complexes and Their Formation
This study was conducted to determine the effects of chitosan molecular weight and degree of deacetylation (DD) on chitosan–cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) polyelectrolyte–macroion complexes (PMCs) and their formation. Chitosan samples with three different molecular weights (81, 3 · 103, 6 · 103 kDa) and four different DDs (77, 80, 85, 89%) were used. The effects on PMC formation were determined by turbidimetric titration. An effect of the molecular weight of chitosan was not observed in turbidimetric titrations. Turbidity levels were higher for CNCs with lower sulfate group density and larger hydrodynamic diameter than for CNCs with higher sulfate group density and smaller hydrodynamic diameter. Conversely, turbidity levels were higher for chitosans with higher DD (higher charge density) than for chitosans with lower DD (lower charge density). PMC particles from chitosans with different molecular weights were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, laser Doppler electrophoresis, and dynamic light scattering. PMCs from high-molecular-weight chitosan were more spherical and those from medium-molecular-weight chitosan had a slightly larger hydrodynamic diameter than PMCs from the respective other two chitosans. The molecular weight of the chitosan was concluded to have no effect on the formation of chitosan–CNC PMC particles and only a minor effect on the shape and size of the particles. The higher turbidity levels for CNCs with lower sulfate group density and larger hydrodynamic diameter and for chitosans with higher DD were attributed to a larger number of CNCs being required for charge compensation.