Multifunctional PLA Blends Containing Chitosan Mediated Silver Nanoparticles: Thermal, Mechanical, Antibacterial, and Degradation Properties
Poly(lactic acid) (PLA) is one of the most commonly employed synthetic biopolymers for facing plastic waste problems. Despite its numerous strengths, its inherent brittleness, low toughness, and thermal stability, as well as a relatively slow crystallization rate represent some limiting properties when packaging is its final intended application. In the present work, silver nanoparticles obtained from a facile and green synthesis method, mediated with chitosan as a reducing and stabilizing agent, have been introduced in the oligomeric lactic acid (OLA) plasticized PLA in order to obtain nanocomposites with enhanced properties to find potential application as antibacterial food packaging materials. In this way, the green character of the matrix and plasticizer was preserved by using an eco-friendly synthesis protocol of the nanofiller. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results proved the modification of the crystalline structure as well as the crystallinity of the pristine matrix when chitosan mediated silver nanoparticles (AgCH-NPs) were present. The final effect over the thermal stability, mechanical properties, degradation under composting conditions, and antimicrobial behavior when AgCH-NPs were added to the neat plasticized PLA matrix was also investigated. The obtained results revealed interesting properties of the final nanocomposites to be applied as materials for the targeted application.