In this study, biodegradable polymeric films (BPFs) based on chitosan and acrylic acid cross-linked with 3-aminopropyl triethoxysilane (APTES) were developed for water retention and soil-conditioning applications in areas sufferings from water scarcity. A series of BPFs were prepared by varying the amount of silica nanoparticles (SiNPs) (0.67% to 2.6%) and a correlation of the optimum amount of SiNPs with thermal stability, morphology, swellability (at various pH), degradability, and anti-microbial activity were deduced. The obtained results showed that the NP 8 (containing 2.51% of SiNPs) exhibited the maximum absorption capacity (1815%) in distilled water, whereas NP6 (including 1.88% of SiNPs) expressed the maximum thermal stability (T at 375.61 °C). The microscopic images further strengthen this observation because the maximum number of micro-porous cavities was shown on the surface of NP8. The time-dependent swelling response in distilled water accomplished that hydrophilicity (percentage swelling) of films was enhanced with an increase in the concentration of SiNPs. All BPFs samples exhibited inhibitory response against both gram-positive (for Staphylococcus aureus was 2.9 cm for NP6) and gram-negative (for Escherichia coli was 0.9 cm for NP8) bacteria. The biodegradation test inferred that the degradation of BPFs in soil did not affect the soil fertility as nano-silica is proven as growth-promoting miniatures. It can be concluded that these BPFs may be efficiently employed in the agriculture sector for water retention and as a soil conditioner.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.