Physicochemical, Bacteriostatic, and Biological Properties of Starch/Chitosan Polymer Composites Modified by Graphene Oxide, Designed as New Bionanomaterials
The application of natural polymer matrices as medical device components or food packaging materials has gained a considerable popularity in recent years, this has occurred in response to the increasing plastic pollution hazard. Currently, constant progress is being made in designing two-component or three-component systems that combine natural materials which help to achieve a quality comparable to the purely synthetic counterparts. This study describes a green synthesis preparation of new bionanocomposites consisting of starch/chitosan/graphene oxide (GO), that possess improved biological activities; namely, good tolerability by human cells with concomitant antimicrobial activity. The structural and morphological properties of bionanocomposites were analyzed using the following techniques: dynamic light scattering,&nbsp;scanning and transmission electron microscopy,&nbsp;wettability and free surface energy determination, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The study confirmed the homogenous distribution of GO layers within the starch/chitosan matrix and their large particle size. The interactions among the components were stronger in thin films. Additionally, differential scanning calorimetry analysis, UV–vis spectroscopy, surface colour measurements, transparency, water content, solubility, and swelling degree of composites were also performed. The mechanical parameters, such as tensile strength and elongation at break (EAB) were measured in order to characterise the functional properties of obtained nanocomposites. The GO additive altered the thermal features of the composites and decreased their brightness. The EAB of composite was improved by the introduction of GO. Importantly, cell-based analyses revealed no toxic effect of the composites on HaCat keratinocytes and HepG2 hepatoma cells, although a pronounced bacteriostatic effect against various strains of pathogenic bacteria was observed. In conclusion, the starch/chitosan/GO nanocomposites reveal numerous useful physicochemical and biological features, which make them a promising alternative for purely synthetic materials.