, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 217-226
Date: 11 Nov 2012

Surface modification of cotton nanocrystals with a silane agent

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The research herewith aims at obtaining cellulose nanocrystals with a reduced hydrophilic surface character using a silane with isocyanate groups (isocyanatepropyltriethoxysilane), which are very reactive to hydroxyl groups and thus, are readily able to react with the low quantity of free hydroxyl groups present in the cellulose nanocrystal surfaces, therefore, promoting surface modification. Cellulose nanocrystals were obtained by hydrochloric acid hydrolysis of cotton fiber and were characterized by X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and solid state 29Si nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and their morphologies were investigated by scanning and transmission electron microscopy techniques. The nanocrystals presented a needle-like geometry with a 10 nm approximate diameter and a 166 nm average length. FTIR, 29Si NMR and silicon mapping images showed that nanocrystal surface chemical modification was successfully achieved. Also, the results confirm that the chemical modification occurred mainly at the nanocrystal surface, keeping the morphological integrity of the nanocrystals. The applied methodology for surface modification of the cellulose nanocrystals provided nanofillers with more appropriate surface characteristics that allow the dispersion in polymeric matrices and the adhesion at filler-matrix interface to be obtained. This may result in a better performance of these nanocrystals as reinforcing agents of hydrophobic polymer matrices.