We investigate the effects of mixing a colloidal suspension of tunicate-derived cellulose nanocrystals (t-CNCs) with aqueous colloidal suspensions of two protein diblock copolymers, EC and CE, which bear two different self-assembling domains (SADs) derived from elastin (E) and the coiled-coil region of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (C). The resulting aqueous mixtures reveal improved mechanical integrity for the CE+t-CNC mixture, which exhibits an elastic gel network. This is in contrast to EC+t-CNC, which does not form a gel, indicating that block orientation influences the ability to interact with t-CNCs. Surface analysis and interfacial characterization indicate that the differential mechanical properties of the two samples are due to the prevalent display of the E domain by CE, which interacts more with t-CNCs leading to a stronger network with t-CNCs. On the other hand, EC, which is predominantly C-rich on its surface, does not interact as much with t-CNCs. This suggests that the surface characteristics of the protein polymers, due to folding and self-assembly, are important factors for the interactions with t-CNCs, and a significant influence on the overall mechanical properties. These results have interesting implications for the understanding of cellulose hydrophobic interactions, natural biomaterials and the development of artificially assembled bionanocomposites.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|State||Published - Dec 9 2013|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry