This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing the resources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. Primary support for the subproject and the subproject's principal investigator may have been provided by other sources, including other NIH sources. The Total Cost listed for the subproject likely represents the estimated amount of Center infrastructure utilized by the subproject, not direct funding provided by the NCRR grant to the subproject or subproject staff. The overall goal of this project is to develop novel corn zein protein-based biodegradable functional packaging materials with improved mechanical and barrier properties, as well as antioxidant activity. To achieve this goal, we propose to use pluronic surfactants as plasticizers to improve the strain at break of zein films. Small-angle x-ray scattering will be used to study the structure of zein films containing different amount of either pluronic or reversed pluronic surfactants, and study their structure/mechanical properties/barrier properties relationship. Once these films reach the desired level of mechanical and permeability properties, we will further integrate """"""""smart packaging"""""""" strategies by incorporating encapsulated antioxidants that would further increase their functionalities and values to the food industry. In this proposal, following objectives will be accomplished: (1) Develop zein-based nanocomposite films with improved mechanical and barrier properties by incorporating either pluronic or reversed pluronic surfactants of different loading levels into zein matrices using solvent casting method; (2) Characterize the structure, morphology, sorption isotherm, thermal and mechanical properties of the nanocomposite films using a combination of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), rheology, and AFM-based nanoindentation method. SAXS and WAXS will be carried out in Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory through the collaboration with Co-Investigator Dr. L. Guo; (3) Characterize the barrier properties (O2 and water vapor permeability) of the nanocomposite films with respect to the formulation of zein/plasticizer nanocomposites, and establish the correlation among structure, mechanical properties, barrier properties, and nanocomposite formulation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Biotechnology Resource Grants (P41)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BCMB-E (40))
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Illinois Institute of Technology
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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