MSE Ph.D. Defense – Jie Wu

MSE Grad Presentation
Event Date:
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 2:00pm
ES&T 1387

MSE Ph.D. Defense – Jie Wu

Date:  2 p.m., Tuesday, June 3rd

Location: ES&T 1387


Dr. J. Carson Meredith (ChBE, Advisor)

Dr. Sven Behrens (ChBE)

Dr. Yulin Deng (ChBE)

Dr. Meisha Shofner (MSE)

Dr. Yonathan Thio (ChBE)

Title: Extraction of Chitin Nanofibers and Utilization for Sustainable Composites and Foams


Developing renewable materials to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel as a feedstock for a wide range of applications is becoming increasingly acknowledged as important in society. Chitin, the second most abundant biopolymer in nature, is an ideal candidate for diverse applications because of its remarkable properties, such as abundance, renewability, biodegradability, biocompatibility, antibacterial activity, chemical functionality, and high stiffness and strength. Despite these inherent advantages, chitin is currently still underutilized mainly due to its strong molecular interactions. Currently, its major applications are limited to biomedical engineering, such as tissue engineering, wound dressing and sutures.

This thesis aims to explore and enable the potential utilization of chitin in other fields where it may serve as a renewable functional advanced material. Here, a number of novel chitin-based materials were developed successfully without employing chitin dissolution. These include chitin nanofibers (CNFs), porous chitin with tunable structures, chitin-reinforced polymer composites and chitin-stabilized aqueous foams. Moreover, the properties of these materials including interfacial, optical, thermal, and mechanical characteristics were determined, and their potential utilizations were demonstrated. This research has provided many new insights for the fabrication, characterization, and utilization of chitin, and has built a solid foundation for further exploiting chitin for diverse applications.