Bio-inspired production of chitosan/chitin films from liquid crystalline suspensions

Carlos F C João, Coro Echeverria, Alexandre Velhinho, Jorge Silva, Maria H. Godinho, João P. Borges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Inspired by chitin based hierarchical structures observed in arthropods exoskeleton, this work reports the capturing of chitin nanowhiskers’ chiral nematic order into a chitosan matrix. For this purpose, highly crystalline chitin nanowhiskers (CTNW) with spindle-like morphology and average aspect ratio of 24.9 were produced by acid hydrolysis of chitin. CTNW were uniformly dispersed at different concentrations in aqueous suspensions. The suspensions liquid crystalline phase domain was determined by rheological measurements and polarized optical microscopy (POM). Chitosan (CS) was added to the CTNW isotropic, biphasic and anisotropic suspensions and the solvent was evaporated to allow films formation. The Films’ morphologies as well as the mechanical properties were explored. A correlation between experimental results and a theoretical model, for layered matrix’ structures with fibers acting as a reinforcement agent, was established. The results evidence the existence of two different layered structures, one formed by chitosan layers induced by the presence of chitin and another formed by chitin nanowhiskers layers. By playing on the ratio chitin/chitosan one layered structure or the other can be obtained allowing the tunning of materials’ mechanical properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-381
Number of pages10
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Chitin
  • Chitosan
  • Layered structures
  • Liquid crystals
  • Nanowhisker
  • Self-assembly

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