Strong and conductive chitosan–reduced graphene oxide nanocomposites for transdermal drug delivery
Chitosan–reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanocomposites were synthesized through a biocompatible reduction process and were first reported for applications in transdermal drug delivery devices, such as microneedle arrays. Introducing rGO improved the mechanical properties of chitosan, with the strongest nanocomposites containing 1 wt% and 2 wt% rGO chosen to undergo drug delivery testing. The addition of rGO increased the electrical conductivity of chitosan, allowing the nanocomposites to be used for electroporation or iontophoresis drug delivery applications. The rGO content was proven to be an important factor for drug delivery due to the bonding of drug onto rGO. Increasing the rGO content allowed for a quicker and more substantial drug release, allowing for a controlled drug release rate. The nanocomposites also exhibited pH dependent release behaviour, with a reduced release rate in the presence of an acidic medium. The biodegradation rate of chitosan decreased when rGO was added but the biodegradation rates of the nanocomposites are not dependent on the rGO concentration, with nanocomposites of 1 wt% and 2 wt% rGO possessing a similar biodegradation path. The use of the nanocomposite in a microneedle array was shown through compression testing and drug release testing in a pseudo-in vivo environment.