Cellulose is the most abundant source of biomass in the world. Nano-cellulose possesses the extraordinary mechanical properties of high Young's modulus and great tensile strength found in natural cellulose fiber. However, during drying, abundant hydrogen bonding can agglomerate the nano-cellulose, hindering its mechanical properties. Thus it is important to ensure that the nano-cellulose is utterly deagglomerated in order to improve its applicability. We used various sonication and centrifugation techniques to successfully deagglomerate the cellulose. To better understand the phase behavior of the cellulose nanocrystals, various concentrations of CNC-AA were left to sit in glass vials, while the phase behavior was optically observed over time. After several weeks, there was no discernable phase separation, yet liquid crystalline behavior was noticed in certain concentrations utilizing polarized light microscopy. In order to then use the stable CNC-AA suspensions as films (for eventual application in MEMS devices) a spin-coating procedure onto silicon wafers was optimized. Using AFM and interferometry, the structure and thickness of the CNC-AA films were observed.
Demass, S.; McMillan, M.; and Kitchens, C., "Phase behavior and application studies of cellulose nano-crystals synthesized by acetic acid" (2014). Focus on Creative Inquiry. 69.