Copper nanoparticles were in situ synthesized into a polypropylene matrix in the melt state. Three different routes were studied depending on the method used for the addition of a copper salt: (1) directly as powder; (2) dissolved in water; and (3) dissolved in water with a reducing agent. The first route produced microcrystal, whereas the second route allowed the synthesis of nanoparticles (∼20 nm) homogeneously dispersed in the polymer matrix. By changing the concentration of the reducing agent in the copper solution (third route), a control of the copper structure in the polymer was possible and salt-based or metal/oxide nanoparticles could be obtained. All these composites were able to release copper ions depending on the characteristic of the nanoparticles present in the polymer. Noteworthy, the resulting polymer/copper composites displayed strong antimicrobial behavior against Escherichia coli. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 3406–3411, 2014
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