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Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138

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Food Hydrocolloids
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/foodhyd

A fast and efcient approach to prepare starch nanocrystals from


normal corn starch
Asad Mohammad Amini, Seyed Mohammad Ali Razavi*
Food Hydrocolloids Research Centre, Department of Food Science and Technology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM), POBox: 91775-1163, Mashhad,
Iran

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In present study, simultaneous treatment of corn starch by ultrasound and sulphuric acid hydrolysis was
Received 22 October 2015 investigated focussing a reduction in starch nanocrystal preparation time while increasing the yield.
Received in revised form Different acid/starch concentrations, temperatures, and time durations were assessed through degree of
24 January 2016
hydrolysis, yield, particle size, and surface charge. It was observed that the method is capable of pro-
Accepted 27 January 2016
Available online 30 January 2016
ducing nanocrystals within 45 min with particle size smaller than 100 nm and up to 21.6% yield. The
surface charge of nanocrystals was observed to be increased at elevated levels of independent param-
eters. Round edge nanocrystals with diameters smaller than 50 nm were observed under TEM. The re-
Keywords:
Crystallinity
sults revealed that sonication during nanocrystal preparation not only preserved the crystalline
Hydrolysis structure, but also reasonably increased the efciency of hydrolysis to produce starch nanocrystals. The
Nanotechnology results of the present study would be of great importance to adopt large scale production of nanocrystals
Polydispersity index from starch.
Starch 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Ultrasound
Zeta potential

1. Introduction hinder the industrial production and applicability of SNCs, there-


fore, considerable efforts have been conducted in recent years to
During the last decade, starch nanocrystals (SNCs) have been the overcome the mentioned issues (Jin et al., 2015; Kim, Park, & Lim,
subject of invaluable studies due to their abundance, biodegrad- 2008; LeCorre et al., 2011a, 2012a; LeCorre, Vahanian, Dufresne, &
ability and biocompatibility. Over the years, the preparation pro- Bras, 2012b; Romdhane et al., 2015a).
cess of SNCs has been evolved considerably, most evidently by Recently, the application of ultrasound treatment to disperse or
Angellier, Choisnard, Molina-Boisseau, Ozil, and Dufresne (2004). break the aggregates of SNC and/or to produce nanoparticles from
The preparation methods and applications of starch nanocrystals starch has been the subject of some studies. In 2008, Kim et al.
have been reviewed extensively (Dufresne, 2014; Hu, Fu, Huang, hydrolysed waxy rice starch using a-amylase enzyme followed by
Anderson, & Chang, 2015; Kim, Park, & Lim, 2015; Le Corre & sonication in ethanol. The authors reported that sonication
Angellier-Coussy, 2014; Le Corre, Bras, & Dufresne, 2010; Lin, increased the particle size and decreased the X-ray diffraction in-
Huang, Chang, Anderson, & Yu, 2011; Lin, Huang, & Dufresne, 2012; tensity. Kim, Han, Kweon, Park, and Lim (2013) applied ultrasound
Mary, Pothan, & Thomas, 2013). From the literature, it was evident on waxy maize starch hydrolysates in two different ways and
that the most commonly used protocols in preparing nanocrystals concluded that sonication increased the yield of starch nano-
from starch are mainly based on acid hydrolysis because of its particles, but with loss of crystallinity. In another study, Kim, Park,
simplicity and controllability, but there are some issues associated Kim, and Lim (2013) prepared SNCs from waxy maize starch by
with the method; acid hydrolysis is time consuming and the yield performing hydrolysis at 4  C followed by sonication. Bel Haaj,
or recovery of SNCs are low (Kim et al., 2015; LeCorre, Bras, & Magnin, Petrier, and Bou (2013) prepared nanoparticles with
Dufresne, 2011a; Le Corre, Bras, Choisnard, & Dufresne, 2012; low crystallinity or amorphous nature from normal and waxy
Romdhane, Aurousseau, Guillet, & Mauret, 2015a). These issues maize starch using ultrasound treatment. Using ultrasound-
assisted oxidation method, starch nanoparticles have been pre-
pared from waxy maize starch with low crystallinity (Sun, Fan, &
* Corresponding author. Xiong, 2014). Goncalves, Norena, da Silveira, and Brandelli (2014)
E-mail address: s.razavi@um.ac.ir (S.M.A. Razavi).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodhyd.2016.01.022
0268-005X/ 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A. Mohammad Amini, S.M.A. Razavi / Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138 133

treated pinhao seeds' starch by sonication and reported that measured as the ratio of the square of particle size standard devi-
nanoparticles have been achieved without destructing the crys- ation to mean particle size. At least three independent measure-
talline structure. More recently, Jin et al. (2015) reported that real- ments were performed and the data were averaged.
time sonication increased the performance of cross-ow ultral-
tration system for waxy maize starch SNCs while the structure of 2.4. Zeta potential measurement
SNCs has been preserved.
To the best of our knowledge, most of the published works Zeta potential of nanocrystals, z, was measured based on micro-
focused on dispersing the previously prepared SNCs and/or fabri- electrophoresis technique using a ZetaCompact zetameter (CAD
cating starch nanoparticles which barely were crystalline and there Instruments, France) at pH 7.0 0.1 and 25  C. The data were the
is no published work regarding the production of nanocrystals by mean of at least three replicates.
simultaneous acid hydrolysis and ultrasound treatment. Therefore,
the objectives of the present study were: i) to investigate the in- 2.5. Degree of crystallinity
uence of coupling sonication and sulphuric acid hydrolysis on
yield, particle size and homogeneity, crystallinity, and surface X-ray diffraction (XRD) pattern of different samples treated for
charge of nanocrystals from native corn starch, and ii) to shorten 45 min were recorded using a Bruker D8 Advance spectrometer
the preparation time of SNCs to less than an hour. In order to (Bruker AXS GmbH, Germany) operating at Cu-Ka wavelength,
compare the results, the two optimal acid and starch concentration target voltage and current of 1.541874 , 40 kV and 40 mA,
described in the literature were used; i.e. 15% starch slurry in 3.16 M respectively. The scans were performed in diffraction angle (2q)
acid solution (Angellier et al., 2004), and 40% starch in acid solution range of 4e40 at a step size of 0.04 . Relative crystallinity was
with 4.5 M concentration (Le Corre, Bras et al., 2012). Other studied calculated based on the method described by Hermans and
variables were sonication temperature (10, 20, and 40  C) and Weidinger (1948).
exposure time (15, 30, and 45 min).
2.6. Morphology
2. Materials and methods
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrographs of starch hy-
2.1. Materials drolysates before ltration were recorded using LEO 1450VP mi-
croscope (LEO, Germany). The samples were sprinkled onto double-
Normal corn starch with 27.4 1.1% amylose content and sul- sided adhesive tapes attached to aluminium stubs, coated for 60 s
phuric acid were purchased from Sigma (St. Louis, USA) and Merck with gold-palladium using SC7620 sputter coater (Quorum Tech-
(Darmstadt, Germany), respectively. The ltration of starch hy- nologies, UK) and photographed in microscope at an accelerating
drolysates were performed using MN-619de lter paper (Macher- voltage of 20 kV.
eyeNagel GmbH & Co., Germany) with an average retention Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was performed using a
capacity of 1e2 mm. At all preparations deionised water was used, Philips CM120 microscope (Philips, Netherlands) with an acceler-
unless otherwise specied. ating voltage of 80 kV. A drop of nanocrystal suspension was
deposited onto a carbon coated copper grid, negatively stained
2.2. Nanocrystals preparation procedure with a 2% aqueous solution of uranyl acetate and the image was
recorded on a Kodak SO-163 lm.
The acid hydrolysis procedure to produce SNC was simulta-
neously performed during continuous sonication using a 40 kHz 2.7. Statistical analyses
QuickSonic bath-type ultrasound apparatus (Schder-Schall Co.,
Germany) with 350 W nominal power. Initially, the temperature The experimental data were analysed through GLM procedure
inside ultrasound bath was adjusted to appropriate values (10, 20, of SAS software version 9.1 (SAS Inc., USA). Statistical signicance of
and 40  C), then, dispersions of starch with 15 and 40% (w/w) samples through mean comparisons were conducted using Dun-
concentration were prepared in 3.16 and 4.5 M sulphuric acid so- can's multiple range test at a condence level of 95%.
lutions, respectively. The dispersions were placed immediately at a
height of 20 cm from transducer and submitted to sonication at 3. Results and discussion
100% amplitude for 15, 30, and 45 min. The temperature inside the
bath was traced real-time using digital thermometer (0.01  C) and 3.1. Degree of hydrolysis
adjusted to specied value by replacing with appropriate amount of
ice water to prevent temperature rise during operation. Treated The degree of hydrolysis (DOH) of corn starch samples in rela-
samples were washed successively until neutrality, ltered by lter tion to different levels of temperature, exposure time, and acid/
paper (1e2 mm), lyophilised and placed in air-tight containers starch concentrations are illustrated as Fig. 1a & b. As it can be seen,
before performing the experiments. The degree of hydrolysis and by an increase in treatment time from 15 to 45 min at 10  C, the
SNC yield were calculated as the percent ratio of dissolved solids DOH increased signicantly (p < 0.05) from 6.9 to 18.7% and from
and hydrolysis residues (after ltration) based on the initial starch 4.7 to 16.3% for samples treated in 3.16 (Fig. 1a) and 4.5 M acid
weight, respectively. (Fig. 1b), respectively. At treatment temperature of 20  C, the DOH
of samples treated in 3.16 M acid was increased signicantly from
2.3. Particle size analysis 10.5 to 21.1% by an increase in exposure time from 15 to 45 min
(Fig. 1a), while it was increased to a lower extent (8.1e18.6%) in
Particle size measurements on nanocrystals were performed at 4.5 M acid solution (Fig. 1b). By elongation of treatment, the DOH of
25  C using a Vasco-3 particle size analyser (Cordouan Technolo- samples treated at 40  C in 3.16 and 4.5 M concentrations raised
gies, France) after 30 s homogenisation with ultrasound bath. A prominently from 21.6 to 53.9% and 15.4e39.8%, respectively
value of 1.35 was used as refractive index and particle size distri- (Fig. 1a & b).
bution of samples were characterised based on cumulants and The results revealed that the efciency of hydrolysis was
Pade-Laplace methods. Also, the polydispersity index (PDI) was strongly temperature dependent, so that the DOH prominently
134 A. Mohammad Amini, S.M.A. Razavi / Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138

Fig. 1. The variations in degree of hydrolysis as a response to different ultrasound exposure time and temperatures; (a) 15% starch in 3.16 M acid solution, (b) 40% starch in 4.5 M
acid solution. The error bars are standard deviation and different letters represent statistical signicance (p < 0.05).

increased by raising temperature from 10 to 40  C at similar time durations and acid/solution concentrations, except samples treated
and concentrations. It is generally accepted that the hydrolysis of for 15 min in 4.5 M acid at 10  C and 20  C (Fig. 2a & b). Considering
starch by acid is temperature dependent, in which higher rates of the results of DOH (Section 3.1), a higher portion of amorphous
granule degradation will be achieved at higher temperatures (Kim, lamellae of starch granules has been degraded at elevated tem-
Park et al., 2013; Le Corre, Bras et al., 2012). By contrast, the ef- peratures facilitating the extraction of crystallites observed as an
ciency of ultrasound treatment decreases at higher temperatures increased SNC yield. The results are in accordance with the
because it is believed that the increased vapour pressure of solvent increasing trend of SNC extraction by elevating temperature as
at elevated temperatures diminish the magnitude of shear forces reported by Le Corre, Bras et al. (2012), whereas, Kim, Park et al.
generated upon the collapse of cavitation bubbles (Caruso et al., (2013) observed opposite trend.
2009; Mohammad Amini, Razavi, & Mortazavi, 2015). Therefore, Also, elongation of exposure time from 15 to 45 min enhanced
the increased DOH by raising temperature will be expected by the extraction of SNC so that at similar conditions, samples treated
considering the sole effect of acid. In the situation that there is an in 3.16 M acid were more evidently (p < 0.05) of higher SNC yield
opposite temperature dependence for ultrasound and acid, the (Fig. 2a) compared with those obtained by 4.5 M sulphuric acid
direct trend of DOH with temperature could be explained by the solution (Fig. 2b). In analogy, Le Corre, Bras et al. (2012) concluded
inuence of temperature on solution properties so that probably, that the inuence of starch concentration on SNC yield has been
higher treatment temperatures reduced the viscosity facilitating dispensable so that at temperatures below 30  C the yield has been
cavitation in solution, and on the other hand, the dissociation of decreased by an increase in starch concentration, whereas, it had
acid increased by the combined effect of ultrasound and tempera- no inuence at higher temperatures. The authors attributed the
ture rise because the mobility and activity of H strongly depends observed trend to the fact that the hydrolysis has not been cata-
on temperature (Hoover, 2000; Utrilla-Coello et al., 2014). lysed at ambient temperatures, but at higher temperatures, the acid
Generally, it was observed that the DOH of samples treated in existed in excess.
3.16 M acid concentration were signicantly higher compared with The values of SNC yield obtained after 30 min treatment and
those hydrolysed by 4.5 M acid (Fig. 1). This could be attributed to beyond at 40  C in both acid concentrations in the present study
the lower starch concentration in samples treated by 3.16 M acid were generally higher than the values in the literature (Angellier
solution compared with 40% starch concentration for samples et al., 2004; Kim et al., 2008; Le Corre, Bras et al., 2012; LeCorre,
hydrolysed in 4.5 M acid. Furthermore, the efciency of ultrasound Vahanian, Dufresne, & Bras, 2012; Putaux, Molina-Boisseau,
treatment is believed to be dependent on concentration, so that the Momaur, & Dufresne, 2003), but lower than the value (78%) re-
higher concentration reduces the free solvent available to form ported by Kim, Park et al. (2013) after 6 day of hydrolysis at 40  C.
cavitation, resulting in suppression of shear forces induced by the It is believed that at early stages of acid hydrolysis, both amylose
explosion of cavitation bubbles (Caruso et al., 2009; Czechowska- and amylopectin in amorphous lamellae of granules will be
Biskup, Rokita, Lotfy, Ulanski, & Rosiak, 2005). attacked by hydronium ion (H3O) of acid resulting in a random
The extent of hydrolysis obtained after treatment beyond cleavage of amylose and depolymerisation of amylopectin
30 min at 40  C at the present study were close to the values re- (Ashogbon & Akintayo, 2014; Gao, Vasanthan, Hoover, & Li, 2012;
ported by Wang, Blazek, Gilbert, and Copeland (2012) after 6 days Hoover, 2000; Kim, Lee, Kim, Lim, & Lim, 2012; LeCorre, Bras, &
of hydrolysis but lower than those obtained by Goncalves et al. Dufresne, 2011b; Putaux et al., 2003; Utrilla-Coello et al., 2014).
(2014) after 5 days of starch hydrolysis. Due to the similarities in the mode of action of ultrasound and acid
hydrolysis, i.e. solubilisation of amorphous lamellae of granules and
chain scission, it could be expected that simultaneous sonication
3.2. SNC yield
and acid hydrolysis will synergistically accelerate the inuence of
acid on starch resulting in more efcient extraction of crystallites
Based on the results, by raising temperature from 10 to 40  C,
observed as an increase in SNC yield. Also, this may be due to the
the yield of SNC increased signicantly (p < 0.05) at all time
A. Mohammad Amini, S.M.A. Razavi / Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138 135

Fig. 2. The yield of corn starch nanocrystals as a function of varying sonication temperature and time for samples with (a) 15% starch and 3.16 M acid solution and (b) 40% starch and
4.5 M acid concentrations. Different letters on error bars (standard deviation) represent statistical signicance.

mechanical damage of granule surface by ultrasound which pre- hydrolysed fragments rather than aggregates of blocklets.
sumably facilitated the penetration of acid into granule interior. The samples obtained after treatment at 10  C in 3.16 M acid
showed two distinct particle size peaks which they came closer by
elongation of exposure time from 15 to 45 min. The same trend was
3.3. Particle size and homogeneity
observed for samples treated by 4.5 M acid at 10  C but particle size
values were signicantly higher compared with samples prepared
The results of particle size analysis for corn starch nanocrystals,
by acid solution with lower concentration. Treatment of samples at
characterised based on cumulants and Pade-Laplace methods, are
higher temperatures for 15 and 30 min in 3.16 M acid solution
presented in Table 1. Based on the results of Pade-Laplace method,
decreased the mean particle size and the size distributions were
it was observed that most of samples comprise a bimodal distri-
still bimodal but by further treatment to 45 min, a monomodal
bution with two distinct particle size peaks. Similar observations
distribution with particle size lower than 125 nm was observed
have been reported regarding the bimodal particle size distribution
(Table 1). In case of samples treated by 4.5 M acid, the particle size
(LeCorre et al., 2011a,b). The second peak has been attributed to the
distributions were still bimodal at 20  C at all exposure durations
aggregates (LeCorre et al., 2011a), while in the present study it may
but with reasonably smaller particle size values compared to their
be related to the fragments that were not fully hydrolysed. The
counterparts at 10  C. At 40  C, the same bimodal distribution of
mean particle size corresponding to both peaks decreased upon
particle size was observed, except samples hydrolysed for 45 min.
elongation of exposure time and elevation of temperature; this
Based on the results of cumulants particle size distribution
conrms that the second peak in present work represents non-

Table 1
The results of particle size analysis of corn starch nanocrystals.

Concentration Temperature Time Mean particle size (nm) Polydispersity index

Pade-Laplace method Cumulants method

First peak Second peak

3.16 M acid 15% w/v starch 10  C 15 776.5 18.4 (7.5%) 295.2 10.0 (92.5%) 294.2 7.7b 0.277 0.002a
30 662.4 24.6 (7.0%) 234.7 15.3 (93.0%) 223.6 6.0 de 0.209 0.018d
45 351.3 19.4 (2.5%) 173.9 5.7 (97.5%) 91.8 2.2 hi 0.175 0.023e
20  C 15 631.3 20.6 (5.5%) 229.2 7.5 (94.5%) 260.5 2.0c 0.261 0.037 ab
30 400.9 15.0 (3.5%) 174.2 17.0 (96.5%) 218.2 11.0e 0.190 0.003 de
45 e 125.0 5.9 (100%) 86.2 3.1i 0.170 0.076e
40  C 15 472.3 21.7 (6.0%) 138.1 4.5 (94.0%) 199.5 16.6f 0.147 0.012f
30 324.0 11.1 (8.0%) 131.1 3.8 (92.0%) 95.0 4.0 hi 0.104 0.023g
45 e 109.9 1.7 (100%) 82.9 2.0i 0.078 0.004h
4.5 M acid 40% w/v starch 10  C 15 1050.8 36.3 (9.5%) 472.3 11.7 (90.5%) 360.0 6.2a 0.280 0.047a
30 708.1 9.5 (6.0%) 248.1 15.1 (94.0%) 240.0 10.2d 0.242 0.013 bc
45 495.0 20.9 (4.0%) 210.4 14.1 (96.0%) 176.2 5.0g 0.241 0.015 bc
20  C 15 706.9 24.3 (6.0%) 251.9 14.6 (94.0%) 270.7 11.2c 0.262 0.153 ab
30 517.9 10.6 (4.5%) 195.2 7.7 (95.5%) 235.7 3.9d 0.207 0.013d
45 381.2 7.2 (1.0%) 135.1 8.8 (99.0%) 108.5 1.0h 0.183 0.013e
40  C 15 479.9 16.8 (6.0%) 162.2 9.0 (94.0%) 239.7 13.6d 0.231 0.001c
30 380.4 12.4 (6.0%) 137.2 5.3 (94.0%) 98.4 6.5 hi 0.133 0.021f
45 e 125.2 2.2 (100%) 82.2 16.9i 0.101 0.031g

The values are mean standard deviation and different letters in columns represent signicant statistical differences (p < 0.05). The values in parenthesis stand for the
percentage share of each peak from total size distribution.
136 A. Mohammad Amini, S.M.A. Razavi / Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138

(Table 1), it was observed that increasing temperature and expo- or irregular shape platelets (LeCorre, Bras, & Dufresne, 2011c; Le
sure time reduced mean particle size of SNCs. The differences be- Corre et al., 2010; Kim et al., 2012, 2015).
tween samples were signicant at exposure time of 15 min at all The observed particles in TEM images could be corresponded to
temperatures and concentrations, while treatment of samples for the amylopectin blocklets which are the building blocks of crys-
45 min barely changed particle size (82e92 nm) so that the dif- talline lamellae of granule because it has been reported that the
ferences were not signicant except those prepared at 10 and 20  C diameter of blocklets vary in the range of 20e500 nm based on the
by 4.5 M acid. Again, smaller particle size was observed for SNCs botanical origin of starch; specically in the range of 10e30 nm for
prepared by acid/starch solution of lower concentration. normal corn starch (Baker, Miles, & Helbert, 2001; LeCorre et al.
Concluding, by an increase in temperature and time of hydrolysis, 2011a; Kim et al., 2012).
mean particle size decreased for both types of solutions, more
efciently at lower acid/starch concentration. 3.5. Zeta potential
Based on the results of particle size analysis, the size of samples
treated for 45 min in 3.16 M solution at all temperatures and for It is widely accepted that the surface properties of SNCs are
samples obtained from 4.5 M solution at 40  C for 45 min were dependent on the method utilised for fabrication, so that it has
more or less close to the values reported by others ranging from 40 been postulated that SNCs prepared by sulphuric acid hydrolysis
to 150 nm (Angellier et al., 2004; Chen et al., 2008; Kim, Park et al., contain sulphate esters along with carboxyl groups, while sulphate
2013; Putaux et al., 2003; Zheng, Ai, Chang, Huang, & Dufresne, groups are absent in SNCs prepared by hydrochloric acid
2009). (Romdhane, Aurousseau, Guillet, & Mauret, 2015b; Wei, Hu et al.,
The results of plydispersity index (PDI) for nanocrystals are 2014; Wei, Xu, Jin, & Tian, 2014). In addition, it has been reported
summarised in Table 1. Based on the results, it was revealed that PDI that the majority charged groups on the surface of SNCs prepared
decreased as temperature and treatment time increased, showing by sulphuric acid hydrolysis were the weak acidic, i.e. carboxylic
that more homogenous SNC samples have been obtained, espe- acid, groups which are independent of the hydrolysis time
cially those prepared in 3.16 M acid at 40  C (p < 0.05). The results compared with strong acidic groups of sulphate esters (Romdhane
conrmed that the dilute acid/starch solution enhanced the pro- et al., 2015b).
duction of a more homogenous SNC compared with treatment by In present study, the surface charge of SNCs were characterised
4.5 M acid/40% starch, so that the differences were signicant by determining zeta potential (z) rather than measuring sulphate
except those prepared at 20  C. content by conductometric method. The results revealed that
It could be concluded that by elongation of treatment, the raising temperature of treatment signicantly increase the z of
produced fragments have been broken by the ultrasound to smaller SNCs produced by both acid concentrations (Fig. 4). Also, elonga-
size particles, as evidenced by particle size distribution that was tion of sonication exposure time caused an abrupt (p < 0.05) in-
changed from bimodal to monomodal. A similar conclusion on the crease in z of SNC samples, regardless of acid concentration. The
effect of ultrasound has been made by Kim, Park et al. (2013). On differences between acid concentrations were only signicant for
the other hand, further treatment by ultrasound at 40  C beyond samples treated at 10 and 20  C for 45 min, while all levels of
30 min had no signicant inuence on particle size while increased exposure time at 40  C caused signicant differences (Fig. 4a & b).
the homogeneity (lower PDI). This may conrm that sonication had The highest values of z were observed for samples prepared at
higher efciency on breaking the larger particles rather than 40  C, especially for samples with lower acid/starch concentration
degradation of smaller size species, because the yield of SNCs were (Fig. 4a).
observed to increase upon treatment progress (refer to Section 3.2) It was observed that by increasing the extent of hydrolysis in
while reducing the mean particle size. relation to an increase in independent parameters, the charged
groups exist on the surface of nanocrystals increased, as charac-
3.4. Morphology terised by higher absolute z values. Similar results have been re-
ported by Romdhane et al. (2015b). Therefore, the SNCs prepared
Based on SEM observations, it was revealed that simultaneous from 15% starch concentration by 3.16 M acid at 40  C could yield
treatment of corn starch by ultrasound and acid hydrolysis caused more stable suspensions because of the higher surface charge
granule disruption to more or less submicron fragments through compared with other samples. The values of z in present study for
mechanical damage to granule surface and synergistically elimi- SNCs prepared at 40  C for 30 min and beyond varied from 18.4
nation of amorphous regions. The fragments resulting from the to 31.9 mV which were comparable to the reported values (12
action of acid and sonication are evident in Fig. 3a & b. Also, it is to 27 mV) measured at similar pH value for waxy maize starch
clear that mechanical effect of microjets and/or hot-spots of ul- nanocrystals (Wei, Hu et al., 2014,Wei, Xu et al., 2014; Romdhane
trasound accelerated the inuence of acid by providing open et al., 2015a,b).
channels for acid to eliminate the amorphous growth rings and
granule hylum (Fig. 3c). 3.6. Crystallinity
From TEM image of hydrolysates before ltration (Fig. 3d), it can
be inferred that the main effect of ultrasound and acid hydrolysis at Unlike starch nanoparticles, the most important characteristic
early stages is to liberate large fragments of crystalline lamellae of of SNCs is their crystallinity which is essential in applied point of
granules through degradation of amorphous regions. This may view, therefore, any degradation of crystalline structure during the
conrm the results of particle size analysis (see Section 3.3). After preparation process should be avoided. There are some evidence
progressive treatment and ltration of hydrolysates, TEM obser- that sonication disrupt the crystalline structure of SNCs (Bel Haaj
vations showed that SNCs with particle size lower than 50 nm can et al., 2013; Kim et al. 2008, Kim, Han et al., 2013,Kim, Park et al.,
be achieved in the shape of grape-like aggregates (Fig. 3e) or iso- 2013), thus, to ensure that the crystallinity of SNCs has not been
lated round edge particles (Fig. 3f). In contrast to the platelet-like diminished by sonication treatment, XRD analysis was performed
parallelepipedal morphology observed in case of waxy maize on samples with the highest level of ultrasound duration (45 min).
SNCs (Angellier et al., 2004; Angellier, Molina-Boisseau, Belgacem, The results of crystallinity of SNC samples prepared at different
& Dufresne, 2005; Putaux et al., 2003; Thielemans, Belgacem, & temperature and concentrations are presented in Fig. 5.
Dufresne, 2006), some researchers reported round edge, polygon, As it can be seen, elevating temperature from 10 to 40  C caused
A. Mohammad Amini, S.M.A. Razavi / Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138 137

Fig. 3. SEM micrographs of corn starch granules sonicated in acidic medium (a, 10000X; b, 20000X; c, 30000X); TEM images of corn starch nanocrystals before (d, scale bar 100 nm)
and after ltration (e & f, scale bar: 50 nm).

Fig. 4. The zeta potential of corn starch nanocrystals as affected by sonication temperature and exposure time for samples prepared in: a) 3.16 M acid and 15% starch concentration,
and b) 4.5 M acid and 40% starch suspension. Different letters on error bars (standard deviation) represent signicant differences (p < 0.05).

an increase in crystallinity of SNC samples ranging from 28.1 to through simultaneous coupling of sulphuric acid hydrolysis and
36.6%. Also, the results revealed that samples prepared by lower ultrasound. Different parameters including starch and acid con-
acid and starch concentration were more crystalline than those centrations, temperature, and time duration of sonication were
prepared by 4.5 M sulphuric acid at the same conditions. The re- assessed in relation to the yield, particle size, surface charge, and
sults clearly indicated that ultrasound treatment for 45 min had no crystallinity of nanocrystals. The results proved that by applying
inuence on crystalline nature of SNC, unlike other reports (Bel Haj ultrasound at higher temperatures it could be possible to prepare
et al., 2013; Kim et al. 2008, Kim, Han et al., 2013,Kim, Park et al., nanocrystals in reasonable yield and short time comparable to the
2013). In accordance with the present results, an increase in de- available protocols in the literature. Through different character-
gree of crystallinity after acid hydrolysis has been reported by isations, it was conrmed that the prepared samples were in
others (LeCorre et al., 2011c; Kim et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2012). nanometric size range with preserved crystalline structure. The
results of present study provide the opportunity to prepare starch
nanocrystals in appropriate time scale and yield for industrial
4. Conclusions
scales, especially when it has the applicability to be coupled with
other isolation methods such as membrane ltration to adopt
The present study focused on adopting a fast and efcient
continuous operations needed by the industry.
method to prepare starch nanocrystals from normal corn starch
138 A. Mohammad Amini, S.M.A. Razavi / Food Hydrocolloids 57 (2016) 132e138

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