Chitosan, chitin, tartaric acid cross linked chitosan, reactive oxygen species, chemo hydrothermally treated, copper chitosan


Chitosan (CS) is a man-made sugar based biopolymer derived from chitin, the second most abundant natural polymer after cellulose. Chitin is sourced from crustacean species such as shrimps and crabs. The chemical structure of chitin contains N-Acetyl D-glucosamine monomer units which forms CS upon deacetylation. In CS, ?-(1-4) linked D-glucosamine units are randomly distributed. Approximately 75% - 80% sugar units contains primary amine groups in commercially available low molecular weight CS. Biodegradability, low toxicity, mucoadhesive and transfecting properties of CS polymer are attractive for applications as oral and nasal drug delivery systems. Chitosan polymer is water insoluble at neutral pH. To solubilize CS, dilute mineral acid (such as hydrochloric acid and nitric acid) or organic acid (such as acetic acid) is often used. CS contains both hydroxyl and primary amine groups in its structure. In acidic solution, the amine functional groups become protonated (positively charged). Positively charged CS remains stable only in low pH condition due to electrostatic repulsion of charged polymer segments. Therefore, by using a suitable anionic (negatively charged) cross-linker, stable CS particles (such as nanoparticles and microspheres) can be prepared. This is popularly known as ionic gelation method. Extensive studies have been done on the synthesis of drug loaded CS particles where particle integrity is maintained by ionic gelation using tripolyphosphate (TPP, an anionic cross-linker). Drug encapsulated CS-TPP composite particles are shown to maintain biodegradability and biocompatibility. The CS-TPP composite particles exhibits very limited dispersibility at neutral pH conditions specifically in neutral buffered conditions. A number of biomedical applications (including systemic drug formulations) however demands buffer-stable CS composite particles for achieving optimal therapeutic outcome. To overcome the above dispersibility issues, CS polymer and CS particles units have been chemically modified using water soluble motifs (such as water soluble polymer or ligands). This approach is very cumbersome and usually involves multiple purification steps. Chemical modification of natural CS chain introduces risks of compromising biodegradability and biocompatibility. Therefore, there is a strong need for developing a straightforward method of making water soluble CS and CS particles. Chapter 1 of this dissertation presents an overview of the CS polymer, various applications of CS polymers, methods of making CS polymers and CS particles, current limitations of synthesis methods for preparing stable chitosan particles at neutral pH conditions and finally delineates the scope of the proposed research work. Chapter 2 describes development of chemo-hydrothermal synthesis method for producing water soluble CS polymer and water dispersible CS composite particles. In this method, a chemical (depolymerizing agent) is used to treat CS polymer in a hydrothermal (high temperature and high pressure) condition. Two types of depolymerizing agents have been used, an inorganic acid (e.g. hydrochloric acid, HCl) and a bicarboxylic organic acid (e.g. tartaric acid, TA). In both cases, 100% depolymerized CS polymer was obtained. Chemical characteristics of the depolymerized CS were comparable to acid solubilized CS. CS polymer exhibits weak fluorescence. Interestingly, hydrothermally depolymerized CS shows strong fluorescence properties irrespective of the nature of depolymerizing agent used. TA not only depolymerized CS but also formed CS-TA composite particulate structures in solution via self-assembly. The CS-TA composite particles are stable in a wide pH range from 5 to 11. Detailed spectroscopic and microscopic studies have been done to understand the basic mechanism of particle formation and increase in fluorescence properties (i.e. structure-property relationship). Usefulness of CS-TA in solubilizing water-insoluble cargos (such as fluorescein isothiocyanate, FITC) has been demonstrated. Chapter 3 is focused on hydrothermal synthesis of mixed-valence copper (Cu) oxide loaded CS-TA composite particles and their characterization. Crystalline Cu oxide nanoparticles were coated with the CS-TA layer. Water dispersibility of Cu oxide greatly improved upon coating with CS-TA material. To demonstrate catalytic activity of Cu-oxide loaded CS-TA film in sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2), an electrochemical setup was used. Electrochemical reduction of CO2 was successfully demonstrated. It was observed that CS-TA environment not only maintained catalytic properties of Cu oxide but also allowed solution processing of Cu-oxide film onto the electrode surface. Chapter 4 discusses a convenient method of making monodispersed water dispersible Cu loaded chitosan nanoparticles (Cu-CS) using HCl depolymerized CS polymer. The purpose of this study was to investigate if there was any improvement in antibacterial properties of Cu-CS nanoparticles prepared using hydrothermally treated CS polymer. Interestingly, it was observed that the antibacterial efficacy of Cu was not compromised in Cu-CS nanoparticles. Moreover, the materials exhibited improvement in antibacterial efficacy against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria species. A plausible mechanism has been proposed to explain antibacterial results. Chapter 5 summarizes major findings of this dissertation research and presents future research directions.


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Graduation Date





Santra, Swadeshmukul


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

November 2019

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic