Molecularly thin nanoparticles from cellulose: isolation of sub-microfibrillar structures
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We have succeeded in isolating nanostructures from never-dried cellulose wood pulp, in sheet-form that have sub-microfibril dimensions (single to double digit Å thickness with 100’s of nm in length). A recently developed oxidation procedure by Saito and co-workers (Biomacromolecules 2006, 7:1687–1691) combined with extensive ultrasonication was used to liberate nanoscale cellulose fibrils. We show structures, as determined with atomic force microscopy, that compose the well-known cellulose microfibril, which are tenfold thinner than previous reports on nanoscale celluloses. This work provides indirect evidence in support of, and is consistent with, the hypothesis that the intersheet van der Waals bonding of the cellulose fibril is significantly weaker than the intrasheet hydrogen bonding of the cellulose microfibril. The structures are facile to isolate, contain enormous specific surface area with rich chemical functionality providing potential for numerous novel applications.
KeywordsAtomic force microscopy Microfibril Nanocellulose Cellulose nanocrystal Microfibrillated cellulose
We appreciate the generous financial support of the Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science, College of Natural Resources, and the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products at Virginia Tech. We also would like to acknowledge Richard K. Johnson for informative discussions around the oxidation process of cellulose fibers.
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