Sustainable and Degradable Epoxy Resins from Trehalose, Cyclodextrin, and Soybean Oil Yield Tunable Mechanical Performance and Cell Adhesion

Quanxuan Zhang, Haley R. Phillips, Anatolii Purchel, Joseph K. Hexum, Theresa M Reineke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Natural product feedstocks such as carbohydrates and vegetable oils offer tremendous potential for creating sustainable cross-linked epoxy resin thermosets for numerous applications. Herein, we designed and synthesized trehalose- and β-cyclodextrin-based carboxylic acid hardeners to cure with epoxidized soybean oil forming predominantly sustainable epoxy resins. Trehalose (Tr) and β-cyclodextrin (Cd) were functionalized with heptanoyl chloride (H) and succinic anhydride (S). The resulting carboxylic acid hardeners were homogeneously formulated and cross-linked with epoxidized soy bean oil (ESO) at three different COOH/epoxide ratios. The cured resins were thermally stable up to 300 °C and stable in neutral and acidic aqueous conditions. Yet, degradation into water-soluble components could be triggered upon exposure to basic aqueous media. The physical properties of these materials are tunable based on feedstock composition and identity of the carbohydrate hardener. The glass transition temperatures (Tg) of the Tr-based epoxy polymers ranged from â to 3 °C, whereas the Cd-based polymers exhibited Tg values of 28-36 °C. The mechanical properties including tensile strength and Young's moduli also varied where the Cd-thermosets offered higher performance due to the structural rigidity of the cup-like structure. Homogeneous epoxy resin films of these materials were examined for their ability to promote cell adhesion and proliferation using neonatal human dermal fibroblast (HDFn) cells. The results indicated that films composed of the Cd-based epoxy resin with a 50/50 ratio of âCOOH/epoxide promoted cell adhesion and proliferation with density similar to that of the well-studied control polymer poly(dl-lactide-co-glycolide) (PLG). Interestingly, the Tr-based epoxy films completely prevented cell adhesion and growth. The starkly different cell adhesion results and favorable physical characteristics of these predominantly sustainable epoxy resins support their promise as benign surfaces and scaffolds for a variety of applications ranging from adhesives and antifouling coatings to wound healing and tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14967-14978
Number of pages12
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 5 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded through the National Science Foundation under the Center for Sustainable Polymers (NSF project CHE-1413862). Part of this work was carried out in the College of Science and Engineering Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which has received capital equipment funding from the NSF through the UMN MRSEC program under award number DMR-1420013. We would also like to acknowledge work done using the Nikon A1RMP multiphoton confocal system at the University of Minnesota − University Imaging Centers,

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Adhesion
  • Biocompatibility
  • Carbohydrate
  • Degradation
  • Epoxy
  • Hardener
  • Sustainable
  • Thermoset

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

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