College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Materials Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Materials Engineering

College - Author 2

College of Engineering

Department - Author 2

Materials Engineering Department

Degree - Author 2

BS in Materials Engineering



Primary Advisor

Trevor Harding, College of Engineering, Materials Engineering Department

Additional Advisors

Leslie Hamachi, College of Science and Mathematics, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department


Bacterial cellulose (BC) is a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based polymer films for synthetic leather applications. Synthesized by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, BC is a three-dimensional structure composed of cellulose microfibrils. However, pure BC lacks certain desirable properties such as high tensile strength. Previous studies have shown that loading BC with nanoparticles to form nanocomposites has improved BC’s mechanical properties. However, this was not studied as a function of particle size. This study focuses on using silica/BC nanocomposites to model the impact that particle size and silica soaking concentrations have on the uptake efficiency of these particles into BC. Silica particles are incorporated into the BC hydrogel by diffusion, where 100 nm and 1300 nm silica particles at varying concentrations were tested. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to visually analyze the silica loading in the samples. The samples soaked with 1300 nm silica particles showed no visible particles on the film surface, while the samples soaked with 100 nm silica particles display a textured surface possibly attributable to silica particles on the surface of the BC. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) of the samples soaked with 1300 nm silica particles across all concentrations show no increase in silica weight percent, confirming our observations from SEM. However, the samples soaked with 100 nm silica particles showed an increase in inorganic residue of 2.23%, 4.11%, and 11.10% with increasing silica soaking concentration via TGA. Despite these findings, the data was not statistically significant to conclude successful increase in silica content with increasing soaking concentrations.