Hydrogels for wound dressing applications must use materials with specific chemical and mechanical properties that allow the biological process of healing. In this context, this PhD project proposes the development of nanocomposite hydrogels, which will be inspired by plant cell wall composition and structure to have suitable properties that allow their application as wound dressings. For this, sugarcane bagasse, which is a widely Brazilian agricultural waste, will be investigated as the substrate. While cellulose acts as a hydrophilic structure of the hydrogel, the presence of lignin can incorporate antibacterial and anti-UV properties, besides enhancing the mechanical performance, and hemicellulose can modulate surface and swelling properties. The main strategy to produce hydrogels will be the production of a new class of nanomaterials, termed nanolinocelluloses, which are obtained by the fibrillation of the cellulosic solid with higher amounts of lignin to keep the native structure of the compounds. Alternatively, classic methods to isolate cellulose and to produce cellulose nanofibrils will be investigated, followed by the incorporation of lignin as solution or as nanoparticles and hemicellulose. Chemical and morphological characterizations and assays of cytotoxicity, antibacterial activity and permeability to fluids will be used to evaluate the hydrogel application. This project should thus contribute to the development of more green and sustainable methodologies to produce high value-added materials with tunable and improved properties by the integral use of biomass.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: