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Authors:  Joanna Szymońska and Piotr Tomasik
Several nanomaterials have been developed in recent years. Their properties are
unique and qualitatively different from those of larger than submicron size.
Nanomaterials offer real and potential applications in modern technology, science and
medicine i. e. in advanced materials, electronics, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals,
cosmetics, food production, environmental detection and monitoring. Nanomaterials can
be either natural or manmade. The first are favored over synthetic polymer based
substances. Starch as a nontoxic, cheap and renewable biopolymer is particularly suitable
for the development of environment friendly, biocompatible, and functional
Several physicochemical methods are used for preparation of starch derived
nanoparticles. Some of them use various options of starch granule disintegration in waterin-
oil emulsions and cross-linking. P rocessing of granular, pregelatinised or hydrolysed
biopolymer using a mechanical treatment, such as extrusion at elevated temperature
under conditions of high shear and simultaneous cross-linking are the other routes. Acid
or enzymatic hydrolysis of starch followed by ball milling or membrane dialysis of
aqueous dimethyl sulfoxide solution of starch against absolute ethanol was also reported.
Aforementioned methods are laborious and energy consuming. They produced starch
particles ranging in size from several m to 300 nm. Because of chemicals used, such
products could not be utilized in food applications. Recently, an alternative way of
preparation of starch originated nanoparticles was proposed. In this procedure, starch
granules were subjected to severe drying and/or multiple deep-freezing/thawing cycles
followed by mechanical crushing in absolute ethanol suspension. The major fraction of
the resulting mixtures was made up by the particles of the size in the range of 100-300
nm. They were accompanied by the 50-100 and below 50 nm particles (about 10% and
5%, respectively). Polysaccharide nanoparticles readily agglomerate and swell on contact
with cold water, which caused difficulties in dispersing them in this solvent. However,
they could be easily dispersed in both polar and non-polar organic solvents. The submicron
size of polysaccharide nanoparticles offers a number of distinct advantages over native starch granules. One of importance is the opportunity to obtain suspensions and
emulsions with unique colloidal and rheological properties, better availability and
dispersion of nutrients or food additives, as well as better sorption ability of the dry
particles and their susceptibility for enzyme hydrolysis and chemical reactions.
Their use as thickeners or rheology modifiers (in foods, paints, inks), adhesive or
adhesive additives, matrix material or fillers in coating applications and biodegradable
polymers, drug delivery agents in pharmacy, selective binders and removers of chemicals
and pathogens, carriers of colorants, flavors and fragrances in cosmetics and foods, for
delivery of pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals in agriculture, in paper-making and
packaging industry (adhesive, paper and cardboard surface treatment, gloss etc.) is among
potential applications of starch nanoparticles. For their barrier properties starch originated
nanoparticles could be used as components of packaging foils or films preventing
products from rotting. 

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