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Fabrication of zein nanostructure

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Title: Fabrication of zein nanostructure
Author(s): Luecha, Jarupat
Director of Research: Kokini, Jozef L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Schmidt, Shelly J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Kokini, Jozef L.; Padua, Graciela W.; Liu, Gang Logan; Lee, Youngsoo
Department / Program: Food Science & Human Nutrition
Discipline: Food Science & Human Nutrition
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): zein corn protein viscoelastic rheological properties nanocomposites microfluidic devices
Abstract: The concerns on the increase of polluting plastic wastes as well as the U.S. dependence on imported petrochemical products have driven an attention towards alternative biodegradable polymers from renewable resources. Zein protein, a co-product from ethanol production from corn, is a good candidate. This research project aims to increase zein value by adopting nanotechnology for fabricating advanced zein packaging films and zein microfluidic devices. Two nanotechnology approaches were focused: the polymer nanoclay nanocomposite technique where the nanocomposite structures were created in the zein matrix, and the soft lithography and the microfluidic devices where the micro and nanopatterns were created on the zein film surfaces. The polymer nanoclay nanocomposite technique was adopted in the commonly used zein film fabrication processes which were solvent casting and extrusion blowing methods. The two methods resulted in partially exfoliated nanocomposite structures. The impact of nanoclays on the physical properties of zein films strongly depended on the film preparation techniques. The impact of nanoclay concentration was more pronounced in the films made by extrusion blowing technique than by the solvent casting technique. As the processability limitation for the extrusion blowing technique of the zein sample containing hight nanoclay content, the effect of the nanoclay content on the rheological properties of zein hybrid resins at linear and nonlinear viscoelastic regions were further investigated. A pristine zein resin exhibited soft solid like behavior. On the other hand, the zein hybrid with nanoclay content greater than 5 wt.% showed more liquid like behavior, suggesting that the nanoclays interrupted the entangled zein network. There was good correspondence between the experimental data and the predictions of the Wagner model for the pristine zein resins. However, the model failed to predict the steady shear properties of the zein nanoclay nanocomposite resins. The soft lithography technique was mainly used to fabricate micro and nanostructures on zein films. Zein material well-replicated small structures with the smallest size at sub micrometer scale that resulted in interesting photonic properties. The bonding method was also developed for assembling portable zein microfluidic devices with small shape distortion. Zein-zein and zein-glass microfluidic devices demonstrated sufficient strength to facilitate fluid flow in a complex microfluidic design with no leakage. Aside from the fabrication technique development, several potential applications of this environmentally friendly microfluidic device were investigated. The concentration gradient manipulation of Rhodamine B solution in zein-glass microfluidic devices was demonstrated. The diffusion of small molecules such as fluorescent dye into the wall of the zein microfluidic channels was observed. However, with this formulation, zein microfluidic devices were not suitable for cell culture applications. This pioneer study covered a wide spectrum of the implementation of the two nanotechnology approaches to advance zein biomaterial which provided proof of fundamental concepts as well as presenting some limitations. The findings in this study can lead to several innovative research opportunities of advanced zein biomaterials with broad applications. The information from the study of zein nanocomposite structure allows the packaging industry to develop the low cost biodegradable materials with physical property improvement. The information from the study of the zein microfluidic devices allows agro-industry to develop the nanotechnology-enabled microfluidic sensors fabricated entirely from biodegradable polymer for on-site disease or contaminant detection in the fields of food and agriculture.
Issue Date: 2012-05-22
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/30945
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Jarupat Luecha
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-05-22
Date Deposited: 2012-05
 

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