Chitin nanofiber alignment: optical and quantitative analysis

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lee B. Williams (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Dennis LaJeunesse

Abstract: Polymers are an important material in modern life. Most of our modern world is made of polymeric materials. When we think of polymers, the synthetic plastics we use on a regular basis typically come to mind, but not all polymers are synthetics. The natural world is made up of polymers; we are made up of biological polymers. In fact, polynucleotides, polypeptides, and polysaccharides are all important polymers essential for life as we know it. Chitin is a valuable biopolymer that is an easily attainable, sustainable natural material and has the potential to become more commercially important in the near future. Chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer on the planet. This exquisitely abundant natural resource is found in the exoskeletons of arthropods, the beaks of cephalopods, the radulae of mollusca, and the cell wall of fungi. As a biopolymer, chitin is robust and strong, biologically compatible, and insoluble in all common polar solvents. Chitin shows resilience to wear, but it is completely biodegradable and enzymatically digested by chitinases. It provides much the same properties to insect cuticle as cellulose provides in the cell walls of plants: strength, rigidity, protection, and a basis for a mechanically resilient composite material. However, the organization of chitin in these structures, especially at the nanoscale, remains undescribed, as do the mechanisms that govern this organization. For this thesis I will determine and characterize the patterns of chitin alignment in an insect cuticle, characterize the linear polarization associated with specific cuticle structures, determine the role that chitin organization plays in this property, and determine the underlying rules of chitin nanofiber alignment.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Biomaterials, Biopolymers, Chitin, Nanofibers, Nanomaterials, Self-Assembly
Chitin $x Biotechnology

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