Chitin is a representative biomass resource comparable to cellulose. Although considerable efforts have been devoted to extend novel applications to chitin, lack of solubility in water and common organic solvents causes difficulties in improving its processability and functionality. Ionic liquids have paid much attention as solvents for polysaccharides. However, little has been reported regarding the dissolution of chitin with ionic liquids. The author found that an ionic liquid, 1-allyl-3-methylimidazolium bromide (AMIMBr), dissolved chitin in concentrations up to ~4.8 wt % and the higher contents of chitin with AMIMBr gave ion gels. When the ion gel was soaked in methanol for the regeneration of chitin, followed by sonication, a chitin nanofiber dispersion was obtained. Filtration of the dispersion was subsequently carried out to give a chitin nanofiber film. A chitin nanofiber/poly(vinyl alcohol) composite film was also obtained by co-regeneration approach. Chitin nanofiber-graft
-synthetic polymer composite films were successfully prepared by surface-initiated graft polymerization technique. For example, the preparation of chitin nanofiber-graft
-biodegradable polyester composite film was achieved by surface-initiated graft polymerization from the chitin nanofiber film. The similar procedure also gave chitin nanofiber-graft
-polypeptide composite film. The surface-initiated graft atom transfer radical polymerization was conducted from a chitin macroinitiator film derived from the chitin nanofiber film.
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