Engineering functional nanothin multilayers on food packaging: Ice-nucleating polyethylene films

Zafer Gezgin, Tung Ching Lee, Qingrong Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Polyethylene is the most prevalent plastic and is commonly used as a packaging material. Despite its common use, there are not many studies on imparting functionalities to those films which can make them more desirable for frozen food packaging. Here, commercial low-density polyethylene (LDPE) films were oxidized by UV-ozone (UVO) treatment to obtain a negatively charged hydrophilic surface to allow fabrication of functional multilayers. An increase in hydrophilicity was observed when films were exposed to UVO for 4 min and longer. Thin multilayers were formed by dipping the UVO-treated films into biopolymer solutions, and extracellular ice nucleators (ECINs) were immobilized onto the film surface to form a functional top layer. Polyelectrolyte adsorption was studied and confirmed on silicon wafers by measuring the water contact angles of the layers and investigating the surface morphology via atomic force microscopy. An up to 4-5 C increase in ice nucleation temperatures and an up to 10 min decrease in freezing times were observed with high-purity deionized water samples frozen in ECIN-coated LDPE films. Films retained their ice nucleation activity up to 50 freeze-thaw cycles. Our results demonstrate the potential of using ECIN-coated polymer films for frozen food application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5130-5138
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of agricultural and food chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 29 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


  • UV-ozone (UVO) treatment
  • atomic force microscopy (AFM)
  • extracellular ice nucleators (ECINs)
  • freezing curves
  • ice nucleation
  • low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

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