Chitosan has many useful intrinsic properties (e.g., non-toxicity, antibacterial properties, and biodegradability) and can be processed into high-surface-area nanofiber constructs for a broad range of sustainable research and commercial applications. These nanofibers can be further functionalized with bioactive agents. In the food industry, for example, edible films can be formed from chitosan-based composite fibers filled with nanoparticles, exhibiting excellent antioxidant and antimicrobial properties for a variety of products. Processing ‘pure’ chitosan into nanofibers can be challenging due to its cationic nature and high crystallinity; therefore, chitosan is often modified or blended with other materials to improve its processability and tailor its performance to specific needs. Chitosan can be blended with a variety of natural and synthetic polymers and processed into fibers while maintaining many of its intrinsic properties that are important for textile, cosmeceutical, and biomedical applications. The abundance of amine groups in the chemical structure of chitosan allows for facile modification (e.g., into soluble derivatives) and the binding of negatively charged domains. In particular, high-surface-area chitosan nanofibers are effective in binding negatively charged biomolecules. Recent developments of chitosan-based nanofibers with biological activities for various applications in biomedical, food packaging, and textiles are discussed herein.
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