Structure and physical properties of zein/pluronic F127 composite films

Ji Li, Yunqi Li, Tung Ching Lee, Qingrong Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Triblock copolymer Pluronic F127 has been used to form composites with zein, a corn protein and coproduct of the bioethanol industry, to alleviate its natural brittleness. At low F127 loadings (0-35%), the plasticizing effect was dominant, and the elongation at break of zein composite film containing 35% F127 was about 8-fold higher than that of the zein film with 10% F127. At high F127 loadings (50-100%), a large number of lamellae crystals were formed in the film matrix as verified by a combination of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The F127 crystallization surpassed its plasticizing effect, resulting in an increased brittleness of zein film with the further increase of F127 loading. Compared with the flat-on lamellae of pure F127, F127 chains folded into branch-like lamellar structures in the zein composite film containing 50% F127 due to the confinement of amorphous zein. Besides, the crystals in zein films were composed of extended chain integral folding (IF = 0) and once-folded chain (IF = 1) polyethylene oxide (PEO) crystals, and the portion of once-folded chain (IF = 1) PEO crystals increased with F127 loading. Thus, through investigation of the competition of plasticizing effect and crystal formation under different F127 loadings, the optimized F127 loading in zein/F127 composite film with a good overall performance was determined to be at around 35%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1309-1318
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of agricultural and food chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 13 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Pluronic F127
  • composite films
  • crystallization
  • plasticizing effect
  • zein

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