Nanocellulose: From Nature to High Performance Tailored Materials

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Speaker / Institution: Emily D. Cranston / McMaster University (Canada)

Abstract: By learning from nature and using bio-components, we can engineer high-performance materials with improved functionality. A thorough understanding of interfacial and mechanical properties is necessary to design polymer composites with enhanced compatibility between components and favorable material properties overall.

I will present the preparation and characterization of various cellulosic nanomaterials including cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) which are two different colloidal forms of cellulose that can be thought of as cellulosic “rice” and “spaghetti”, respectively. CNCs and CNFs shows great promise as composite components because of their unique optical and mechanical properties, light weight, low cost, biodegradability and non-toxicity. Potential applications of these materials include pigments, optical coatings, sensors, biomedical devices, gels, foams or more generally as a substitute for non-biodegradable thermoplastic composites. I will review some new water-based routes to functionalize cellulosic nanomaterials, leading to, for example cationic, hydrophobic and fluorescent CNCs. Finally, the “tool-box‟ of surface characterization techniques will be discussed, highlighting colloidal probe atomic force microscopy (CP-AFM) and buckling-based mechanical measurements for thin film analysis.