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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 651549, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/651549
Research Article

Manipulation of Polyhydroxybutyrate Properties through Blending with Ethyl-Cellulose for a Composite Biomaterial

1Bio/Polymer Research Group, Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design, School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
2Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Lucas Heights, NSW 2234, Australia

Received 6 May 2011; Accepted 30 May 2011

Academic Editor: Shanfeng Wang

Copyright © 2011 Rodman T. H. Chan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is widely used as a biomaterial in medical and tissue-engineering applications, a relatively high crystallinity limits its application. Blending PHB with ethyl-cellulose (EtC) was readily achieved to reduce PHB crystallinity and promote its degradation under physiological conditions without undue influence on biocompatibility. Material strength of composite films remained unchanged at 6.5 ± 0.6 MPa with 40% (w/w) EtC loadings. Phase separation between the two biopolymers was determined with PHB crystallinity decreasing from 63% to 47% for films with the same loading. This reduction in crystallinity supported an increase in the degradation rates of composite films from 0.39 to 0.81% wk−1 for PHB and its composite, respectively. No significant change in morphology and proliferation of olfactory ensheathing cells were observed with the composites despite significant increases in average surface roughness (Ra) of the films from 2.90 to 3.65  𝜇 m for PHB and blends with 80% (w/w) EtC, respectively.