Plasticization of zein: A thermomechanical, FTIR, and dielectric study

Thomas Gillgren, Susan A. Barker, Peter S. Belton, Dominique M. R. Georget, Mats Stading

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80 Citations (Scopus)


Zein, the main seed storage protein of maize, has been widely studied as a possible source of material for the production of biodegradable plastic films. Plasticization of zein is critical to make functional films. While there have been a number of publications which report the behavior of systems with a wide variety of plasticizers, there have been few which attempt to examine the interactions of protein and plasticizer at the molecular level. In this paper, we report on the plasticizing effects of water, glycerol, and 2-mercaptoethanol, which were examined by a combination of spectroscopy (FTIR and dielectric) and thermomechanical methods. The results suggest that both water and glycerol are adsorbed onto the protein and form hydrogen bonds with the amide groups. The plasticizer then builds up in patches on the protein surface. 2-Mercaptoethanol only exhibited a weak plasticizing effect due probably to disulfide bond breaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1139
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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