Fractal analysis of the formation process and morphologies of hyaluronan/chitosan nanofilms in layer-by-layer assembly

In the last decade, hyaluronan (HA, polyanion) and chitosan (CHI, polycation) biopolymers have been assembled by layer-by-layer (LbL) for the synthesis of antibacterial coatings. As electrostatic interactions are the main driving force for the formation of LbL films, pH and ionic strength (IS) are important critical variables of synthesis. In this context, we used surface fractal analysis of HA/CHI films to characterize the growth process for different bilayers obtained with two pH (5 and 3) and IS values (0 and 0.1 M NaCl). Our results showed that the HA/CHI assembling is mainly affected by changes in the pH than IS. Fractal dimension (D-f) of pH 5 series presented values similar to 2.2, indicating that irregularities from the initial random adsorption process are minimized. However, when pH decreased to 3, D-f increases up to similar to 2.5, suggesting a transition to diffusion-limited aggregation.

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