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Advances in Nanocomposites: Preparation, Characterization, Properties and Applications

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Macromolecular Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2023) | Viewed by 17252

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
College of Animal Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
Interests: nanocomposites; polymer composites; food packaging; probiotics; encapsulation; functional foods; molecular biology; food pathogens; food microbiology; food quality and preservation; genomics; antimicrobial resistance

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Guest Editor
Department of Chemical, Metallurgical & Materials Engineering (Polymers Technology Division), Institute of NanoEngineering Research (INER), Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Interests: polymer physics; X-ray diffraction; light and electron microscopy; rheology and viscoelasticity of polymers nanocomposites; polymer blends; composites; nanomaterials; hydrogel; antibacterial activity; spectroscopy

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Guest Editor
College of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
Interests: bionanocomposites; polymer composites; nanocellulose; nanomaterials; active food packaging; postharvest preservation of fruits and vegetables; food processing and preservation; bioactive compounds; encapsulation; essential oils; spectroscopy techniques; plant disease management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nanocomposites are a class of nanomaterials wherein one or more phases of a nano-sized dimension (zero dimensions, one dimension, and two dimensions) are embedded in ceramic, metal, or polymer materials, etc. Nanoparticles, nanorods, nanospheres, nanofibers, nanocrystals, and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are examples of the discrete units of nanocomposite materials. The nanocomposites exhibit multifunctional properties such as high surface-to-volume ratios, high mechanical strength, high electrical or thermal conductivity, chemical resistance, optical properties, decreased gas and water permeability, flame retardancy, redox reactivity, and catalytic activity. The researchers have utilized nanocomposite materials for a broad range of applications.

This Special Issue focuses on the preparation, characterization, and applications of nanocomposites, including natural polymers, synthetic polymers, biopolymers, and gels prepared through homogenization, sonication, wet chemical approaches, electrospinning, mechanical and thermal techniques, etc. The final application of nanocomposites can range from food, packaging, sensors, the biomedical field, aerospace, automobiles, construction, agriculture, electrochemical, anticorrosion protection, water treatment, smart window development, and many other high-technology related areas. Preferably, contributions to this Special Issue should focus on fundamental results, mechanisms, and applications that will help to gather the current status and highlight the recent advancements in this field. Both original research work and reviews are welcome.

Topics of interest for this Special Issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Preparation and characterization of nanocomposites;
  • Theoretical and experimental research, knowledge, and new ideas in nanocomposite;
  • Structure–function–property relationships of nanocomposites;
  • Recent developments of the functionalities of nanocomposites;
  • Computer modeling and simulation to predict coating properties;
  • Applications of nanocomposites in various sectors.

Dr. Reshma B Nambiar
Prof. Dr. Rotimi Sadiku Emmanuel
Dr. Anand Babu Perumal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • nanocomposites
  • green nanocomposites
  • filler reinforced nanocomposites
  • nanocomposite films and coatings
  • hybrid nanocomposites
  • nanobiocomposites
  • structure–function–property relationships
  • processing methods of nanocomposites
  • multifunctional nanocomposites
  • smart materials
  • energy storage materials

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 5611 KiB  
Article
Support Materials of Organic and Inorganic Origin as Platforms for Horseradish Peroxidase Immobilization: Comparison Study for High Stability and Activity Recovery
by Muhammad Bilal, Oliwia Degorska, Daria Szada, Agnieszka Rybarczyk, Agata Zdarta, Michal Kaplon, Jakub Zdarta and Teofil Jesionowski
Molecules 2024, 29(3), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29030710 - 03 Feb 2024
Viewed by 770
Abstract
In the presented study, a variety of hybrid and single nanomaterials of various origins were tested as novel platforms for horseradish peroxidase immobilization. A thorough characterization was performed to establish the suitability of the support materials for immobilization, as well as the activity [...] Read more.
In the presented study, a variety of hybrid and single nanomaterials of various origins were tested as novel platforms for horseradish peroxidase immobilization. A thorough characterization was performed to establish the suitability of the support materials for immobilization, as well as the activity and stability retention of the biocatalysts, which were analyzed and discussed. The physicochemical characterization of the obtained systems proved successful enzyme deposition on all the presented materials. The immobilization of horseradish peroxidase on all the tested supports occurred with an efficiency above 70%. However, for multi-walled carbon nanotubes and hybrids made of chitosan, magnetic nanoparticles, and selenium ions, it reached up to 90%. For these materials, the immobilization yield exceeded 80%, resulting in high amounts of immobilized enzymes. The produced system showed the same optimal pH and temperature conditions as free enzymes; however, over a wider range of conditions, the immobilized enzymes showed activity of over 50%. Finally, a reusability study and storage stability tests showed that horseradish peroxidase immobilized on a hybrid made of chitosan, magnetic nanoparticles, and selenium ions retained around 80% of its initial activity after 10 repeated catalytic cycles and after 20 days of storage. Of all the tested materials, the most favorable for immobilization was the above-mentioned chitosan-based hybrid material. The selenium additive present in the discussed material gives it supplementary properties that increase the immobilization yield of the enzyme and improve enzyme stability. The obtained results confirm the applicability of these nanomaterials as useful platforms for enzyme immobilization in the contemplation of the structural stability of an enzyme and the high catalytic activity of fabricated biocatalysts. Full article
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15 pages, 4735 KiB  
Article
The Effect of pH on the Viscoelastic Response of Alginate–Montmorillonite Nanocomposite Hydrogels
by Haniyeh Malektaj, Aleksey D. Drozdov, Elham Fini and Jesper de Claville Christiansen
Molecules 2024, 29(1), 244; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29010244 - 02 Jan 2024
Viewed by 869
Abstract
Ionically cross-linked alginate hydrogels are used in a wide range of applications, such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, and food packaging. A shortcoming of these gels is that they lose their strength and degrade at low pH values. To develop gels able to [...] Read more.
Ionically cross-linked alginate hydrogels are used in a wide range of applications, such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, and food packaging. A shortcoming of these gels is that they lose their strength and degrade at low pH values. To develop gels able to preserve their integrity in a wide range of pH values, Ca-alginate–montmorillonite nanocomposite gels are prepared, and their chemical structure, morphology, and mechanical response are analyzed. As the uniformity of nanocomposite gels is strongly affected by concentrations of MMT and CaCl2, it is revealed that homogeneous gels can be prepared with 4 wt.% MMT and 0.5 M CaCl2 at the highest. The viscoelastic behavior of nanocomposite gels in aqueous solutions with pH = 7 and pH = 2 is investigated by means of small-amplitude compressive oscillatory tests. It is shown that Ca-alginate–MMT nanocomposite gels preserve their integrity while being swollen at pH = 2. The experimental data are fitted by a model with only two material parameters, which shows that the elastic moduli increase linearly with a concentration of MMT at all pH values under investigation due to formation of physical bonds between alginate chains and MMT platelets. The presence of these bonds is confirmed by ATR-FTIR spectroscopy. The morphology of nanocomposite gels is studied by means of wide-angle X-ray diffraction, which reveals that intercalation of polymer chains between clay platelets increases the interlayer gallery spacing. Full article
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12 pages, 3401 KiB  
Article
Cold-Sintered ZnO Ceramic Composites Co-Doped with Polytetrafluoroethylene and Oxides
by Yongjian Xiao, Yang Yang, Shenglin Kang, Yuchen Li, Xinyuan Hou, Chengjun Ren, Xilin Wang and Xuetong Zhao
Molecules 2024, 29(1), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules29010129 - 25 Dec 2023
Viewed by 846
Abstract
Grain boundaries play a significant role in determining the performance of ceramic-based materials. The modulation of interfacial structures provides a promising approach to improve the physicochemical and electrical properties of ceramic materials. In this work, the grain boundary structures of ZnO-based ceramics were [...] Read more.
Grain boundaries play a significant role in determining the performance of ceramic-based materials. The modulation of interfacial structures provides a promising approach to improve the physicochemical and electrical properties of ceramic materials. In this work, the grain boundary structures of ZnO-based ceramics were manipulated by incorporating polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and metal oxides through the cold sintering process (CSP). It was found that the grain size of ZnO-based ceramics can be effectively reduced from 525.93 nm to 338.08 nm with an addition of PTFE and metal oxides of CoO and Mn2O3. Microstructural results show that most of the PTFE phase and metal oxides were distributed along the grain boundaries, which may lead to the increased grain boundary resistance from 1.59 × 106 ohm of pure ZnO to 6.21 × 1010 ohm of ZnO-based ceramics doped with PTFE and metal oxides, and enhanced Schottky barrier height from 0.32 eV to 0.59 eV. As a result, the breakdown field and nonlinear coefficient of the ZnO-based ceramics were improved to 3555.56 V/mm and 13.55, respectively. Therefore, this work indicates that CSP presents a feasible approach to design functional ceramic composites through the integration of polymer and metal oxides. Full article
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11 pages, 15523 KiB  
Article
Biodegradable Nanofibrillated Cellulose/Poly-(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) Composite Film with Enhanced Barrier Properties for Food Packaging
by Xiangyang Zhou, Guoqiang Yin, Yunchao Huang, Yuan Li and Dong Xie
Molecules 2023, 28(6), 2689; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28062689 - 16 Mar 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1881
Abstract
Biodegradable composites consisting of Poly-(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT), thermoplastic starch, hydrophobically modified nanofibrillated cellulose (HMNC), and green surfactant (sucrose fatty acid ester) were prepared via the melt-mixing and film-blowing process (PBAT-HMNC). The composites were characterized using the Fourier transform infrared spectroscope (FT-IR), scanning electron [...] Read more.
Biodegradable composites consisting of Poly-(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT), thermoplastic starch, hydrophobically modified nanofibrillated cellulose (HMNC), and green surfactant (sucrose fatty acid ester) were prepared via the melt-mixing and film-blowing process (PBAT-HMNC). The composites were characterized using the Fourier transform infrared spectroscope (FT-IR), scanning electron microscope (SEM), and thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA). The mechanical and barrier properties were systematically studied. The results indicated that PBAT-HMNC composites exhibited excellent mechanical and barrier properties. The tensile strength reached the maximum value (over 13 MPa) when the HMNC content was 0.6% and the thermal decomposition temperature decreased by 1 to 2 °C. The lowest values of the water vapor transmission rate (WVTR) and the oxygen transmission rate (OTR) were obtained from the composite with 0.6 wt% HMNC, prepared via the film-bowing process with the values of 389 g/(m2·day) and 782 cc/(m2·day), which decreased by 51.3% and 42.1%, respectively. The Agaricus mushrooms still had a commodity value after 11 days of preservation using the film with 0.6 wt% HMNC. PBAT-HMNC composites have been proven to be promising nanocomposite materials for packaging. Full article
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13 pages, 3062 KiB  
Article
Fluorescence and Nonlinear Optical Response of Graphene Quantum Dots Produced by Pulsed Laser Irradiation in Toluene
by Parvathy Nancy, Nithin Joy, Sivakumaran Valluvadasan, Reji Philip, Sabu Thomas, Rodolphe Antoine and Nandakumar Kalarikkal
Molecules 2022, 27(22), 7988; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27227988 - 17 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1874
Abstract
Graphene quantum dots (GQDs), the zero dimensional (0D) single nanostructures, have many exciting technological applications in diversified fields such as sensors, light emitting devices, bio imaging probes, solar cells, etc. They are emerging as a functional tool to modulate light by means of [...] Read more.
Graphene quantum dots (GQDs), the zero dimensional (0D) single nanostructures, have many exciting technological applications in diversified fields such as sensors, light emitting devices, bio imaging probes, solar cells, etc. They are emerging as a functional tool to modulate light by means of molecular engineering due to its merits, including relatively low extend of loss, large outstretch of spatial confinement and control via doping, size and shape. In this article, we present a one pot, facile and ecofriendly synthesis approach for fabricating GQDs via pulsed laser irradiation of an organic solvent (toluene) without any catalyst. It is a promising synthesis choice to prepare GQDs due to its fast production, lack of byproducts and further purification, as well as the control over the product by accurate tuning of laser parameters. In this work, the second (532 nm) and third harmonic (355 nm) wavelengths of a pulsed nanosecond Nd:YAG laser have been employed for the synthesis. It has been found that the obtained GQDs display fluorescence and is expected to have potential applications in optoelectronics and light-harvesting devices. In addition, nonlinear optical absorption of the prepared GQDs was measured using the open aperture z-scan technique (in the nanosecond regime). These GQDs exhibit excellent optical limiting properties, especially those synthesized at 532 nm wavelength. Full article
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11 pages, 2833 KiB  
Article
Preparation and In Vitro Bioactivity Study of a Novel Hollow Mesoporous Bioactive Glass Nanofiber Scaffold
by Jian Xiao, Qianghua Wei, Jinhong Xue, Zide Yang, Zhicheng Deng and Fulai Zhao
Molecules 2022, 27(22), 7973; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27227973 - 17 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1204
Abstract
In this study, a novel three-dimensional hollow mesoporous bioactive glass nanofiber scaffold has been synthesized with a template-assisted sol-gel method using bacterial cellulose (BC) as a template and nonionic triblock copolymer (P123) as a pore-directing agent, ethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), calcium nitrate tetrahydrate (CN), [...] Read more.
In this study, a novel three-dimensional hollow mesoporous bioactive glass nanofiber scaffold has been synthesized with a template-assisted sol-gel method using bacterial cellulose (BC) as a template and nonionic triblock copolymer (P123) as a pore-directing agent, ethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), calcium nitrate tetrahydrate (CN), and triethyl phosphate (TEP) as glass precursors. Scanning and transmission electron microscopies, X-ray diffraction, nitrogen adsorption-desorption, and nuclear magnetic resonance method were applied to characterize the morphology, crystal structure, and chemical structure of the mesoporous bioactive glass nanofiber scaffold. Furthermore, the in vitro bioactivity and biocompatibility were also explored. The obtained scaffold depicted nanofiber-like morphology and interconnected three-dimensional network structure that replicated the BC template. The scaffold showed a large specific surface area (230.0 cm2 g−1) and pore volume (0.2 m3 g−1). More importantly, the scaffold exhibited excellent apatite-forming ability and cellular biocompatibility. We believe that the hollow mesoporous bioactive glass nanofiber scaffold has great potential application in bone tissue regeneration. Full article
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9 pages, 4540 KiB  
Article
Low-Cost and Environmental-Friendly Route for Synthesizing Nano-Rod Aluminosilicate MAZ Zeolite
by Fen Zhang, Wei Chen, Lingling Wang, Weiguo Song and Yin Hu
Molecules 2022, 27(22), 7930; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27227930 - 16 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1270
Abstract
Preparation of nano-rod aluminosilicate Mazzit (MAZ) zeolite under low-cost and environmental-friendly route is attractive, but still challenging. Herein, we report a green route for synthesizing nano-rod MAZ zeolite (MAZ-N) using low-cost and environmental-friendly choline chloride as template. Various characterizations including powder X-ray diffraction [...] Read more.
Preparation of nano-rod aluminosilicate Mazzit (MAZ) zeolite under low-cost and environmental-friendly route is attractive, but still challenging. Herein, we report a green route for synthesizing nano-rod MAZ zeolite (MAZ-N) using low-cost and environmental-friendly choline chloride as template. Various characterizations including powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscope (SEM), N2 sorption, and thermogravimetry-differential thermal analysis (TG-DTA) show that MAZ-N samples have good crystallinity and uniform porous structures. Furthermore, the crystallization process and impact of synthesis conditions of MAZ-N samples have been investigated in detail. These results suggest the potential applications of MAZ-N zeolites as supporting catalyst compounds in industrial processes. Full article
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14 pages, 1727 KiB  
Article
Optimization of Lignin–Cellulose Nanofiber-Filled Thermoplastic Starch Composite Film Production for Potential Application in Food Packaging
by Tawakaltu AbdulRasheed-Adeleke, Evans Chidi Egwim, Emmanuel Rotimi Sadiku and Stephen Shaibu Ochigbo
Molecules 2022, 27(22), 7708; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27227708 - 09 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1505
Abstract
The optimization of the production of thermoplastic starch (TPS) bionanocomposite films for their potential application in food packaging was carried out, according to the Box–Wilson Central Composite Design (CCD) with one center point, using Response Surface Methodology (RSM) and fillers based on lignin [...] Read more.
The optimization of the production of thermoplastic starch (TPS) bionanocomposite films for their potential application in food packaging was carried out, according to the Box–Wilson Central Composite Design (CCD) with one center point, using Response Surface Methodology (RSM) and fillers based on lignin and nanofiber, which were derived from bamboo plant. The effects of the fillers on the moisture absorption (MAB), tensile strength (TS), percent elongation (PE) and Young’s modulus (YM) of the produced films were statistically examined. The obtained results showed that the nanocomposite films were best fitted by a quadratic regression model with a high coefficient of determination (R2) value. The film identified to be optimum has a desirability of 76.80%, which is close to the objective function, and contained 4.81 wt. % lignin and 5.00 wt. % nanofiber. The MAB, TS, YM and PE of the identified film were 17.80%, 21.51 MPa, 25.76 MPa and 48.81%, respectively. The addition of lignin and cellulose nanofiber to starch composite was found to have reduced the moisture-absorption tendency significantly and increased the mechanical properties of the films due to the good filler/matrix interfacial adhesion. Overall, the results suggested that the produced films would be suitable for application as packaging materials for food preservation. Full article
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11 pages, 1583 KiB  
Article
Fabrication and Model Characterization of the Electrical Conductivity of PVA/PPy/rGO Nanocomposite
by Oladipo Folorunso, Moses Oluwafemi Onibonoje, Yskandar Hamam, Rotimi Sadiku and Suprakas Sinha Ray
Molecules 2022, 27(12), 3696; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27123696 - 08 Jun 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1637
Abstract
Owing to the numerous advantages of graphene-based polymer nanocomposite, this study is focused on the fabrication of the hybrid of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polypyrrole (PPy), and reduced graphene-oxide. The study primarily carried out the experimentation and the mathematical analysis of the electrical conductivity [...] Read more.
Owing to the numerous advantages of graphene-based polymer nanocomposite, this study is focused on the fabrication of the hybrid of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polypyrrole (PPy), and reduced graphene-oxide. The study primarily carried out the experimentation and the mathematical analysis of the electrical conductivity of PVA/PPy/rGO nanocomposite. The preparation method involves solvent/drying blending method. Scanning electron microscopy was used to observe the morphology of the nanocomposite. The electrical conductivity of the fabricated PVA/PPy/rGO nanocomposite was investigated by varying the content of PPy/rGO on PVA. From the result obtained, it was observed that at about 0.4 (wt%) of the filler content, the nanocomposite experienced continuous conduction. In addition, Ondracek, Dalmas s-shape, dose–response, and Gaussian fitting models were engaged for the analysis of the electrical transport property of the nanocomposite. The models were validated by comparing their predictions with the experimental measurements. The results obtained showed consistency with the experimental data. Moreover, this study confirmed that the electrical conductivity of polymer-composite largely depends on the weight fraction of fillers. By considering the flexibility, simplicity, and versatility of the studied models, this study suggests their deployment for the optimal characterization/simulation tools for the prediction of the electrical conductivity of polymer-composites. Full article
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Review

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27 pages, 3869 KiB  
Review
Various Applications of ZnO Thin Films Obtained by Chemical Routes in the Last Decade
by Mariuca Gartner, Hermine Stroescu, Daiana Mitrea and Madalina Nicolescu
Molecules 2023, 28(12), 4674; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28124674 - 09 Jun 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2455
Abstract
This review addresses the importance of Zn for obtaining multifunctional materials with interesting properties by following certain preparation strategies: choosing the appropriate synthesis route, doping and co-doping of ZnO films to achieve conductive oxide materials with p- or n-type conductivity, and finally adding [...] Read more.
This review addresses the importance of Zn for obtaining multifunctional materials with interesting properties by following certain preparation strategies: choosing the appropriate synthesis route, doping and co-doping of ZnO films to achieve conductive oxide materials with p- or n-type conductivity, and finally adding polymers in the oxide systems for piezoelectricity enhancement. We mainly followed the results of studies of the last ten years through chemical routes, especially by sol-gel and hydrothermal synthesis. Zinc is an essential element that has a special importance for developing multifunctional materials with various applications. ZnO can be used for the deposition of thin films or for obtaining mixed layers by combining ZnO with other oxides (ZnO-SnO2, ZnO-CuO). Also, composite films can be achieved by mixing ZnO with polymers. It can be doped with metals (Li, Na, Mg, Al) or non-metals (B, N, P). Zn is easily incorporated in a matrix and therefore it can be used as a dopant for other oxidic materials, such as: ITO, CuO, BiFeO3, and NiO. ZnO can be very useful as a seed layer, for good adherence of the main layer to the substrate, generating nucleation sites for nanowires growth. Thanks to its interesting properties, ZnO is a material with multiple applications in various fields: sensing technology, piezoelectric devices, transparent conductive oxides, solar cells, and photoluminescence applications. Its versatility is the main message of this review. Full article
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22 pages, 1426 KiB  
Review
Role of AuNPs in Active Food Packaging Improvement: A Review
by Hamed Ahari, Mostafa Fakhrabadipour, Saeed Paidari, Gulden Goksen and Baojun Xu
Molecules 2022, 27(22), 8027; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27228027 - 18 Nov 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1848
Abstract
There is a worldwide concern about food loss due to reduced shelf life among food science researchers. Hence, it seems that any techniques contributing to improved food packaging are most welcome in the food sector. It has been demonstrated that the administration of [...] Read more.
There is a worldwide concern about food loss due to reduced shelf life among food science researchers. Hence, it seems that any techniques contributing to improved food packaging are most welcome in the food sector. It has been demonstrated that the administration of nanotechnology-based techniques such as metal-based nanoparticles can fade away the unresolved obstacles in shortened shelf life and environmental concerns. Along with substantial signs of progress in nanoscience, there is a great interest in the usage of green synthesis-based methods for gold nanoparticles as the most advantageous metals, when compared to conventional chemistry-based methods. Interestingly, those aforementioned methods have significant potential to simplify targeted administration of gold nanoparticles due to a large surface-volume ratio, and diminished biohazards, aimed at increasing stability, and induction of anti-microbial or antioxidant properties. However, it is necessary to consider the hazards of gold nanoparticles including migration for food packaging purposes. Full article
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