A new inorganic–organic hybrid material whereby cellulase enzyme is incorporated into a hydrotalcite type layered double hydroxide (LDH) structure is reported. The Mg2Al–cellulase–LDH was synthesized via co-precipitation from Mg/Al nitrate at pH=9.6. Characterization was performed using X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), elemental analysis, infrared spectroscopy (IR) and thermogravimetry (TG). From XRD and SAXS measurements, a d-value of ~5.0 nm was identified for the basal spacing of the Mg2Al–cellulase–LDH. Consequently, the cellulase enzyme (hydrodynamic diameter ~6.6 nm) attains a slightly compressed conformation when intercalated.
Formation of the LDH hybrid was also confirmed via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Mg2Al–cellulase–LDH phases appear as ~20 nm thin foils which are intergrown to flower-like aggregates. Activity of the enzyme was retained after deintercalation from the Mg2Al–LDH framework using anion exchange. Accordingly, cellulase is not denatured during the intercalation process, and LDH presents a suitable host structure for time-controlled release of the biomolecule.