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Chitin/polyurethane blends: a thermal and morphological study

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Chitin is an abundant natural polymer having important properties such as biocompatibility and biodegradability combined with healing capability. Its use in biomedical applications has been hindered by its poor processing properties such as low solubility and stiffness in the solid state. In an attempt to obtain flexible and more processable chitin‐based materials, we prepared blends of the polymer with a polyurethane containing a soft segment based on biodegradable polycaprolactone. A certain degree of miscibility was found between chitin and the polyurethane, as demonstrated by a shift in the glass transition of the polyurethane observed in dynamical mechanical analyses, with a simultaneous decrease in crystallinity of chitin observed in X‐ray diffraction analyses. A phase inversion of the blends took place for a 50/50 (w/w) composition ratio as demonstrated from thermal, dynamic mechanical, tensile and X‐ray diffraction measurements. Blends of chitin with the polycaprolactone‐based polyurethane can be effectively used to produce tough materials useful in biomedical applications. The mechanical strength of the blends demonstrated that they are able to support tensions above those required for bone replacement, making them good candidates for that purpose. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: biodegradable polymers; biopolymers; chitin; polyurethane

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2010

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