Waxy maize starch nanocrystals obtained by hydrolysis of native granules were used as a reinforcing agent in a thermoplastic waxy maize starch matrix plasticized with glycerol. Compared to our previous studies on starch nanocrystals reinforced natural rubber (NR) [Macromolecules 2005, 38, 3783; 2005, 38, 9161], the present system presents two particularities: (i) thermoplastic starch is a polar matrix, contrarily to NR, and (ii) the chemical structures of the matrix and the filler are similar. The influence of the glycerol content, filler content, and aging on the reinforcing properties of waxy maize starch nanocrystals (tensile tests, DMA) and crystalline structure (X-ray diffraction) of materials were studied. It was shown that the reinforcing effect of starch nanocrystals can be attributed to strong filler/filler and filler/matrix interactions due to the establishment of hydrogen bonding. The presence of starch nanocrystals leads to a slowing down of the recrystallization of the matrix during aging in humid atmosphere. © 2006 American Chemical Society.
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