Zein film functionalized with gold nanoparticles and the factors affecting its mechanical properties†
In this article, we report a simple method to synthesize biodegradable zein films functionalized with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with significantly improved mechanical properties, as an environmentally benign substitute to biologically hazardous polymers. Zein-coated AuNPs were synthesized using the zein protein as a reducing agent and characterized with IR, UV, CD, ζ-potential, and TEM measurements. The zein protein interaction with the negatively charged surface of AuNPs provides excellent strength to the zein thin film. For the first time, FT-IR spectral studies suggested the strong interaction between AuNPs and zein protein, which was further supported by the higher binding constant (Kb) value. The films were characterized for mechanical properties with spectroscopic and physical experimental investigations. The surface morphology of AuNP-doped zein film was explored by AFM and SEM, which suggested that the AuNPs prevent the buckling of zein film and increase the strength as well as flexibility of the film.