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Cellulose nanocrystal structure in the presence of salts

  • Aref Abbasi Moud
  • Mohammad Arjmand
  • Jie Liu
  • Yongfei YangEmail author
  • Amir Sanati-NezhadEmail author
  • S. Hossein HejaziEmail author
Original Research


Aggregation and gelation of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) induced by magnesium chloride (MgCl2) are investigated as a function of CNC and MgCl2 concentrations. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) are employed to study the effect of ionic strength and CNC concentration on the extent of aggregation and structure of the CNC network. The location of CNC particles is traced with Fluorescent brightener 28 staining agent. The results show that the addition of different amounts of MgCl2 causes a cluster formation of CNCs with different fractal dimensions, confirmed by TEM. The fractal dimension of CNC clusters varied from approximately 1.56 ± 0.08 to 1.98 ± 0.01 as the MgCl2/CNC concentration ratio is increased from 0.17 to 0.42. We use the MgCl2/CNC concentration ratio as a global parameter to correlate the results of different measurements and imaging data, including TEM, zeta potential and CLSM. Furthermore, we conduct molecular dynamic simulations to quantitatively examine different CNC behavior in MgCl2 salt–CNC suspension. The results on the potential of mean force (PMF) indicate that the PMF of different ions concentration gravitates to zero where the distance between CNCs is increased from 3.1 nm to 3.5 nm. However, adding ions to the system changes the energy of the system and leads to a different behavior of CNC interactions.

Graphic abstract


Cellulose nano crystals Gelation Aggregation Salts Injectable and self-healable materials 



The authors wish to acknowledge financial assistance from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Innovates BioSolution’s CNC Challenge II and III, University of Calgary Global Research Initiative in Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources-Beijing Site, Kerui-MITACS Accelerate Research Fund Application Ref. IT09328. Yongfei Yang acknowledge the financial support: the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51674280, 51711530131, 51490654), Key Research and Development Plan of Shandong Province (2018GSF116009), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 17CX05003).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Porous Media Laboratory, Department of Chemical and Petroleum EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.School of EngineeringUniversity of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Unconventional Oil & Gas Development (China University of Petroleum (East China))Ministry of EducationQingdaoPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Research Center of Multiphase Flow in Porous Media, School of Petroleum EngineeringChina University of Petroleum (East China)QingdaoChina
  5. 5.Center for Bioengineering Research and EducationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  6. 6.BioMEMS and Bioinspired Microfluidic Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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