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Pure Appl. Chem., 2012, Vol. 84, No. 12, pp. 2521-2529

Published online 2012-07-11

Design and properties of biopolymer–silica hybrid materials: The example of pectin-based biodegradable hydrogels

Nouria Agoudjil1,2, Clémence Sicard2, Vincent Jaouen2, Catherine Garnier3, Estelle Bonnin3, Nathalie Steunou2 and Thibaud Coradin2*

1 Laboratoire d’Etude Physico-Chimique des Matériaux et Application à l’Environnement, USTHB, 16111 Alger, Algeria
2 UPMC Université Paris 06, CNRS, Chimie de la Matière Condensée de Paris, 75005 Paris, France
3 INRA, UR 1268 Biopolymères, Interactions, Assemblages, 44316 Nantes, France

Abstract: The association of natural polymers with silica is a fruitful strategy to design novel hybrid structures with potential applications in the fields of biotechnology, medicine, and environmental sciences. Here we illustrate the principles of formation, the structure, and the properties of such biohybrid systems by the specific example of silica–pectin porous materials. The influence of the silica source, i.e., aqueous silicates and tetraethoxysilane (TEOS), was more specifically addressed. The alkoxide precursor may be associated with the polysaccharide in a wide range of concentrations. In contrast, the high initial viscosity and fast condensation rate of silicates limits the range of accessible compositions. Owing to weak interactions between the mineral and organic components, silicification does not improve the thermal stability of the polymer but has a strong impact on the water stability of the materials, which depends on the silica source. It is shown that the stability of the silica–pectin hybrid materials during enzymatic degradation is optimum for low carbohydrate content and high silica content, independently of the inorganic precursor.