Chitin and chitosan on the nanoscale
In a matter of decades, nanomaterials from biomass, exemplified by nanocellulose, have rapidly transitioned from once being a subject of curiosity to an area of fervent research and development, now reaching the stages of commercialization and industrial relevance. Nanoscale chitin and chitosan, on the other hand, have only recently begun to raise interest. Attractive features such as excellent biocompatibility, antibacterial activity, immunogenicity, as well as the tuneable handles of their acetylamide (chitin) or primary amino (chitosan) functionalities indeed display promise in areas such as biomedical devices, catalysis, therapeutics, and more. Herein, we review recent progress in the fabrication and development of these bio-nanomaterials, describe in detail their properties, and discuss the initial successes in their applications. Comparisons are made to the dominant nanocelluose to highlight some of the inherent advantages that nanochitin and nanochitosan may possess in similar application.