Some Physico-Chemical Properties of Low Molecular Weight Chitosans and their Relationship to Conformation in Aqueous Solution
Depolymerization for different time intervals of high molecular weight chitosan using 2 mol⋅L−3 HCl resulted in low molecular weight (LMW) chitosan of 6, 10, 13, 18, and 30 kDa. These were studied using the FT-IR which indicated that the depolymerization process did not influence the chemical structure. LMW chitosan increases the surface tension of water but adjusting the ionic strength (1% NaCl) caused LMW chitosan to reduce the water surface tension. The zeta potential increased with increasing concentration up to a maximum in 1% NaCl solutions. Particle size showed a reduction in size with increasing concentration. This behavior in reduction of particle size was similar to that for the stiffness parameters. These physico-chemical properties showed that LMW chitosan was present in low concentration in its extended form while in higher concentrations it adopted a more contracted form. This change in conformation was confirmed by using molecular modeling where LMW chitosan is ribbon-like to rod-like in solution but becomes rod-like to spherical at the gas–liquid interface.
KeywordsLow molecular weight chitosan Surface tension Zeta potential Particle size Ionic strength Molecular Mechanics
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