A new preparation method of polymer dyes was developed to improve both the grafting degree of the azo dyes onto O-carboxymethyl chitosan (OMCS) and the water solubility of prepared polymer dyes. Firstly, the coupling compound of two azo edible colorants, sunset yellow (SY) and allura red (AR), was grafted onto OMCS, and then coupled with their diazonium salt. The chemical structure of prepared polymer dyes was determined by Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy and 1
H-NMR, and the results showed that the two azo dyes were successfully grafted onto OMCS. The grafting degree onto OMCS and the water solubility of polymer dyes were tested, and the results showed that they were both improved as expected. The UV-vis spectra analysis results showed that the prepared polymer dyes showed similar color performance with the original azo dyes. Eventually, the cytotoxicity of prepared polymer dyes was tested and compared with the original azo dyes by a cytotoxicity test on human liver cell lines LO2, and the results showed that their grafting onto OMCS significantly reduced the cytotoxicity.
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