The aim of this paper was to prepare composites of bacterial cellulose (BC) and collagen to evaluate both the effect of collagen on the morphological, mechanical and thermal properties of BC and the effect of BC on the thermal stability of collagen for designing composites with increased potential biomedical applications. Two series of composites were prepared, the first series by immersing BC pellicle in solutions of collagen obtained in three forms, collagen gel (CG), collagen solution (CS) and hydrolysed collagen (HC), followed by freeze drying; and the second series of composites by mixing BC powder in solutions of collagen (CG, CS and HC), also followed by freeze drying. The properties of obtained composites were evaluated by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), mechanical tests, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The results revealed that BC acts as a thermal stabilizer for CS matrix, while with CG matrix it interacts synergistically leading to composites with improved properties. On the other hand, the BC sheet impregnated with collagen has a significantly improved thermal stability. Collagen (as HC, CS or CG) has also a positive influence on the mechanical properties of lyophilized BC sheet. A four times increase of modulus was observed in BC/HC and BC/CG composites. and an increase of 60 times for BC/CS. The spectacular increase of elastic modulus and tensile strength in the case of BC/CS composite was explained by the easier penetration of collagen solution in the BC network and impregnation of BC fibrils as revealed by SEM and AFM analyzes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.