Projects per year
In order to understand food product functionality such as elastic and ﬂow behavior and mass transport properties, one ﬁrst has to understand the multi-length-scale structure of the material. The aim of this work is to explore novel methodologies to study and characterize multi-length-scale structures of food hydrogels under static and dynamic conditions. The focus lies on hydrogels comprising polysaccharides, because they show a rich variation in elastic and ﬂow behavior.
The largest part of the thesis focuses on the use of nanoparticles (3–30 nm diameter) that are dissolved into the water phase of hydrogels, and whose mobility is reduced due to the presence of the polymer network. This retardation of nanoparticle self-diﬀusion in hydrogels relative to self-diﬀusion in neat water can be used to infer structural information about the microstructure of the polymer network.
In chapter 2, an in-depth review of existing literature on this method, known as “nanoparticle diﬀusometry”, is provided, with an emphasis on physical models of self-diﬀusion in polymer gels and applications in food gels. In that chapter, we distinguish between (1) nanoparticle diﬀusion in (heterogeneous) polymer gels and (2) nanoparticle diﬀusion in solutions of (semi)ﬂexible polymers. We adhere to this categorization throughout the rest of the thesis.
In chapters 3 and 4 we ﬁrst describe the design and manufacturing of tailor-made nanoparticles that are functionalized with spectroscopic labels, and the implementation of pulsed-ﬁeld gradient (PFG) NMR and optical spectroscopy toolboxes for nanoparticle diﬀusometry. We then use these toolboxes to measure nanoparticle self-diﬀusion in heterogeneous κ-carrageenan (a polysaccharide) gels. These experiments reveal bimodal nanoparticle self-diﬀusion (i.e., there are two nanoparticle fractions with diﬀerent diﬀusion coeﬃcients) as previously observed in these gels by Lorén et al. The results suggest that the sub-micron structure of these gels is heterogeneous with a wide distribution of pore sizes at the sub-micron scale, leading to “sieving” of nanoparticles resulting in the observation of bimodal self-diﬀusion.
This hypothesis is further explored in chapter 5, where besides PFG NMR and optical spectroscopy, Overhauser dynamic nuclear polarization (ODNP)-enhanced NMR spectroscopy is employed. This method can determine the local viscosity of water surrounding the two fractions of particles. It turns out that the particle fraction with the lower apparent diﬀusion coeﬃcient is in fact trapped in small, nanoscopic interstitials within the gel. The ODNP NMR experiments show that the viscosity of water surrounding the trapped particles is signiﬁcantly lower than the viscosity within the larger interstitials.
Chapter 6 describes a study of nanoparticle diﬀusion in solutions of poly(ethylene glycol), a ﬂexible polymer with well deﬁned compositions and chain lengths. We use scaling laws to understand the relation between macroviscosity and “microviscosity” as apparent from the nanoparticle diﬀusivity. We show that the particles probe (near-)macroviscosity only if their size is larger than the size of the PEG polymer coils.
Another topic of this thesis is a study of the behavior of food hydrogels under dynamic conditions. To this end we use rheo-MRI velocimetry, which allows us to study the complex shear ﬂow behavior of hydrogels that (per deﬁnition) have a yield stress. In chapter 7, we ﬁrst employ nanoparticle diﬀusometry to study the sub-micron structure of dispersions of rigid cellulose microﬁbrils in the presence of carboxymethyl cellulose. Carboxymethyl cellulose is a charged cellulose derivative that succeeds to disperse the aggregation-prone cellulose microﬁbrils homogeneously at the sub-micron scale. Rheological characterization shows that the resulting dispersions are thixotropic yield-stress ﬂuids. The ﬂow properties of such ﬂuids are well understood, but rheo-MRI experiments show that shear ﬂow of apparently homogeneous cellulose dispersions does not resemble the ﬂow behavior of typical thixotropic yield-stress ﬂuids. We explain the diﬀerences by using a ﬂuidity model to show that persistent micron-scale heterogeneity still dominates the ﬂow behavior.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||14 Jun 2016|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
- nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy