, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 299-306

Smooth model cellulose I surfaces from nanocrystal suspensions

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Abstract

Removal of lignin, hemicelluloses and other minor components during pulping results in a porous fibrillar structure. Interactions of cellulose fibre surfaces with wet-end additives and other materials depend both on the interfacial properties of the cellulose and on the morphology of the surface. It would be useful to be able to separate the interactions with the cellulose from those that depend on surface roughness and porosity by preparing flat cellulose surfaces. Current methods give surfaces of amorphous cellulose or of cellulose II, differing in density and crystallinity from the original cellulose I surface. We propose a new route to prepare smooth model surfaces of cellulose I, starting from colloidal dispersions of cellulose I nanocrystals. The nanometer-sized width of these rod-like colloidal particles allows a relatively flat surface to be prepared from the suspension by casting an aqueous suspension on an appropriate surface and allowing the water to evaporate. Oriented films can be prepared by spin-coating or shearing. The surface composition and morphology of the films were examined by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy.