Cellulose based Ag-functionalized ZnO nanocomposite (AZC) films were prepared using a green and easy scale-up strategy. Firstly, ZnO embedded cellulose (ZC) nanocomposite was synthesized from a cellulose-NaOH/zincate/urea solution through a biomimetic approach. Secondly, Ag nanoparticles (NPs) with a mean diameter of 53.2 nm were efficiently deposited onto the surface of embedded ZnO in cellulose matrix under UV irradiation (16 w), yielding the multi-hybrid AZC film. Owing to the porous structure of cellulose substrate and its rich hydroxyl group, the NPs in the ACZ films displayed good stability. Because of the formation of Schottky barriers in the Ag-ZnO regions, the catalytic activity of ACZ films increased by 20 times when compared to that of ZC sample. Furthermore, the AZC films could completely inhibit both S. aureus and E. coli growth. This facile and eco-friendly approach is expected to pave the way for constructing multifunctional cellulose material for various niche applications. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.