Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) was used to characterize the nanoscale structure of enzymatically cross-linked chitosan/gelatin hydrogels obtained from two protocols: a pure chemical cross-linking process (C), which uses the natural enzyme microbial transglutaminase, and a physical-co-chemical (PC) hybrid process, where covalent cross-linking is combined with the temperature-triggered gelation of gelatin, occurring through the formation of triple-helices. SANS measurements on the final and evolving networks provide a correlation length (ξ), which reflects the average size of expanding clusters. Their growth in PC gels is restricted by the triple-helices (ξ ∼ 10s of Å), while ξ in pure chemical gels increases with cross-linker concentration (∼100s of Å). In addition, the shear elastic modulus in PC gels is higher than in pure C gels. Our results thus demonstrate that gelatin triple helices provide a template to guide the cross-linking process; overall, this work provides important structural insight to improve the design of biopolymer-based gels.
|Number of pages||9|
|Early online date||15 Mar 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 13 Apr 2015|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry