Chitosan aerogels conjugates the characteristics of nanostructured porous materials, i.e., extended specific surface area and nano scale porosity, with the remarkable functional properties of chitosan. Aerogels were obtained from solutions of chitosan in ionic liquids (ILs), 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate (BMIMAc), and 1-ethyl-3-methyl-imidazolium acetate (EMIMAc), in order to observe the effect of the solvent in the structural characteristics of this type of materials. The process of elaboration of aerogels comprised the formation of physical gels through anti-solvent vapor diffusion, liquid phase exchange, and supercritical CO2
drying. The aerogels maintained the chemical identity of chitosan according to Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer (FT-IR) spectroscopy, indicating the presence of their characteristic functional groups. The internal structure of the obtained aerogels appears as porous aggregated networks in microscopy images. The obtained materials have specific surface areas over 350 m2
/g and can be considered mesoporous. According to swelling experiments, the chitosan aerogels could absorb between three and six times their weight of water. However, the swelling and diffusion coefficient decreased at higher temperatures. The structural characteristics of chitosan aerogels that are obtained from ionic liquids are distinctive and could be related to solvation dynamic at the initial state.
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