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Surface-Induced Frustration in Solid State Polymorphic Transition of Native Cellulose Nanocrystals

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journal contribution
posted on 02.05.2017, 00:00 by Reeta Salminen, Niki Baccile, Mehedi Reza, Eero Kontturi
The presence of an interface generally influences crystallization of polymers from melt or from solution. Here, by contrast, we explore the effect of surface immobilization in a direct solid state polymorphic transition on individual cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), extracted from a plant-based origin. The conversion from native cellulose I to cellulose III crystal occurred via a host–guest inclusion of ethylene diamine inside the crystal. A 60% reduction in CNC width (height) in atomic force microscopy images suggested that when immobilized on a flat modified silica surface, the stresses caused by the inclusion or the subsequent regeneration resulted in exfoliation, hypothetically, between the van der Waals bonded sheets within the crystal. Virtually no changes in dimensions were visible when the polymorphic transition was performed to nonimmobilized CNCs in bulk dispersion. With reservations and by acknowledging the obvious dissimilarities, the exfoliation of cellulose crystal sheets can be viewed as analogous to exfoliation of 2D structures like graphene from a van der Waals stacked solid. Here, the detachment is triggered by an inclusion of a guest molecule inside a host cellulose crystal and the stresses caused by the firm attachment of the CNC on a solid substrate, leading to detachment of molecular sheets or stacks of sheets.