CMU researchers won the top prize at the 11th National Nanotechnology Innovation Contest, earning a trophy from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, as well as the second and third runners-up. The event was held by the College of Materials Innovation and Technology, KMITL, to promote development and advancement, as well as to generate understanding of nanotechnology and interest in the field.
At the event, CMU, led by Professor Dr. Pornchai Rachtanapun from the Faculty of Agro-industry, won a total of three awards in the category for higher education institutions and the general public. The winning project was ‘Fabrication of metal oxide nanoparticle coated poly (vinyl chloride) films by sparking process for use as ethylene absorber’. Ethylene is a small hydrocarbon molecule that occurs naturally during ripening and it also stimulates respiration after harvest. The film’s material absorbs ethylene and turns it into CO2 and water through the photocatalytic reaction under visible light to reduce the amount of ethylene, thus delaying ripening while prolonging storage life.
The second runner-up went to the project ‘NanoPlas Paper: water repellent with plasma coating’. Kraft paper is a material made from an eco-friendly, natural fibre that is hardwearing, resistant to tearing and reusable, making it a popular choice for making corrugated cardboard used in transportation. However, its durability suffers once exposed to moisture, causing problems for the product inside the cardboard container. Coating the cardboard with polymers or fat can help improve durability and water resistance, but it is not eco-friendly. Therefore, this research chose the sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) plasma as the coating material to improve strength and hydrophobic properties, resistant to moisture. Thanks to the clean plasma technology, the result is the NanoPlas paper – an eco-friendly, biodegradable material that can be used in containers to maintain the quality of agricultural produce and products.
The third runner-up was the project ‘Synthesis and characterization of alpha chitosan and beta chitosan for antimicrobial application and shelf-life extension of banana fruit’. Chitosan is a natural extract from shrimp and crab shells with the property to delay produce spoilage. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Chitosan is simple and eco-friendly to use; however, its water insolubility limits the range of application. For this reason, this research aims to develop an extract from chitosan from chitin in the alpha and beta nano-chitosans from shrimp shells and 30 – 80 nanometre squid pens, making it water-soluble and applicable to agricultural product coating.