Wood-derived biomaterials for biomedical applications

Jun Liu

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Driven by the global trend in the sustainable economy development and environmental concerns, the exploring of plant-derived biomaterials or biocomposites for potential biomedical and/or pharmaceutical applications has received tremendous attention. Therefore, the work of this thesis is dedicated to high-value and high-efficiency utilization of plant-derived materials, with the focus on cellulose and hemicelluloses in the field of biomedical applications in a novel biorefinery concept.

The residual cellulose of wood processing waste, sawdust, was converted into cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) with tunable surface charge density and geometric size through 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidinyloxy (TEMPO)-mediated oxidation and mechanical defibrillation. The sawdust-based CNFs and its resultant free-standing films showed comparable or even better mechanical properties than those from a commercial bleached kraft pulp at the same condition, demonstrating the feasibility of producing CNFs and films thereof with outstanding mechanical properties from birch sawdust by a process incorporated into a novel biorefinery platform recovering also polymeric hemicelluloses for other applications. Thus, it is providing an efficient route to upgrade sawdust waste to valuable products. The surface charge density and geometric size of the CNFs were found to play key roles in the stability of the CNF suspension, as well as the gelling properties, swelling behavior, mechanical stiffness, morphology and microscopic structural properties, and biocompatibility of CNF-based materials (i.e. films, hydrogels, and aerogels).

The CNFs with tunable surface chemistry and geometric size was found promising applications as transparent and tough barrier materials or as reinforcing additive for production of biocomposites. The CNFs was also applied as structural matrices for the preparation of biocomposites possessing electrical conductivity and antimicrobial activity by in situ polymerization and coating of polypyrrole, and incorporation of silver nanoparticles, which make the material possible for potential wound healing application.

The CNF-based matrices (films, hydrogels, and aerogels) with tunable structural and mechanical properties and biocompatibility were further prepared towards an application as 3D scaffolds in tissue engineering. The structural and mechanical strength of the CNF matrices could be tuned by controlling the charge density of the nanocellulose, as well as the pH and temperature values of the hydrogel formation conditions. Biological tests revealed that the CNF scaffolds could promote the survival and proliferation of tumor cells, and enhance the transfection of exogenous DNA into the cells, suggesting the usefulness of the CNF-based 3D matrices in supporting crucial cellular processes during cell growth and proliferation.

The CNFs was applied as host materials to incorporate biomolecules for further biomedical application. For example, to investigate how the biocompatibility of a scaffold is influenced by its mechanical and structural properties, these properties of CNF-based composite matrices were controlled by incorporation of different hemicelluloses (O-acetyl galactoglucomanan (GGM), xyloglucan (XG), and xylan) into CNF hydrogel networks in different ratios and using two different approaches. The charge density of the CNFs, the incorporated hemicellulose type and amount, and the swelling time of the hydrogels were found to affect the pore structure, the mechanical strength, and thus the cells growth in the composite hydrogel scaffolds. The mechanical properties of the composite hydrogels were found to have an influence on the cell viability during the wound healing relevant 3T3 fibroblast cell culture. The thus-prepared CNF composite hydrogels may work as promising scaffolds in wound healing application to provide supporting networks and to promote cells adhesion, growth, and proliferation.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
  • Xu, Chunlin, Supervisor
  • Willför, Stefan, Supervisor
Print ISBNs978-952-12-3424-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-12-3425-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

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