Relationship between molecular mobility, microstructure and functional properties in chitosan/glycerol films

Joana F. Fundo, Alexandra Carvalho, António Gabriel Malagueta Feio, Cristina L M Silva, Mafalda A C Quintas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Foods are partially crystalline partially amorphous systems. Edible films are considered good models for food systems due to their interesting physical properties, quite straightforward matrices, and easy reproduction. Chitosan is a semicrystalline biopolymer, biocompatible, biodegradable, with antimicrobial activity and filmogenic properties, thoroughly used in edible films' studies. This work aims to investigate the relationship between chitosan films' molecular relaxation time, their microstructure (crystallinity) and functional properties. Analyses were carried out using data on chitosan/glycerol films prepared with different polymer/plasticisant concentrations. Results demonstrate that there is a relationship between macroscopic properties and water and glycerol relaxation times. Moreover, results show that while water is free in the matrix, glycerol is linked to the chitosan polymeric chains, decreasing intermolecular attractions and increasing free volume, thus facilitating molecular migration. Also the data analysis reveals the usefulness of NMR and molecular mobility studies in the matrix for characterisation and development of polymeric structures. Industrial relevance NMR spectroscopy is currently one of the key methods for food characterisation. Foodstuff is a complex matrix including many different compounds with different chemical structures, concentrations, solubility, properties and nutritional values. From a fundamental perspective, foods are mainly edible and digestible biopolymers that are partially crystalline/partially amorphous and thus edible films, specifically chitosan/glycerol films can be very interesting food model systems for mobility and microstructure studies. Studies on water and solids' mobility and thermo-mechanical properties in food systems (real or model systems) are fundamental to fully attain food physical properties and stability. These studies may be extremely useful for food product and process design, safety and sensorial attributes and also for better understanding and predicting, for example, food storage stability conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-85
Number of pages5
JournalInnovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Macroscopic properties
  • Microscopic properties
  • NMR and molecular mobility studies
  • Polymeric matrices


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