New biobased non-ionic hyperbranched polymers as environmentally friendly antibacterial additives for biopolymers†
The aim of this research was to develop new biobased non-ionic polymeric additives with significant bacterial inhibition and low leaching potential, so that they can be used to produce biopolymer materials for various applications such as biomedical devices, surgical textile, or food packaging. Two new non-ionic hyperbranched polymers (HBPs) were prepared by a facile solvent-free polymerization of an AB2-monomer derived from naturally existing molecular building blocks 2-phenylethanol, isatin, and anisole. The molecular structures and thermal properties of the obtained HBPs were characterized by GPC, NMR, FTIR, HRMS, MALDI-TOF, TGA and DSC analyses. Disk diffusion tests revealed that the two obtained HBPs showed more significant antibacterial activity against 9 different food and human pathogenic bacteria, compared with small molecular antibiotics. The maximal antibacterial effect of HBPs was achieved at 2 μg per disk (or 0.1 mg mL−1), which was significantly lower (∼1/15) compared to the linear antibacterial polymer chitosan. Such enhanced antibacterial properties can be attributed to the unique highly branched structures and effectively amplified functionalities of HBPs. Finally, the prepared HBPs were added into natural polymers cellulose and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), and the resulting biopolymer films showed no significant leakage after being merged in water for 5 days. This was in sharp contrast to the biopolymer films containing a small model compound, which leaked out significantly under the same conditions. To our knowledge, this is the first report on non-ionic bio-based dendritic macromolecules with significant bacteria inhibition and low leakage.