, Volume 25, Issue 12, pp 6847–6862 | Cite as

Thermal stability and crystallization behavior of cellulose nanocrystals and their poly(l-lactide) nanocomposites: effects of surface ionic group and poly(d-lactide) grafting

  • Qizheng Xie
  • Shenglin Wang
  • Xu Chen
  • Yiyang Zhou
  • Huagao FangEmail author
  • Xueliang Li
  • Sheng Cheng
  • Yunsheng DingEmail author
Original Paper


Construction of stereocomplexation on the interface of cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) and poly(l-lactide) (PLLA) has been proven to be an efficient way to strengthen interfacial interaction of the nanocomposite. However, the surface structure variation of CNC with different types of ionic group after grafting of poly(d-lactide) (PDLA) and its influence on the properties of their PLLA nanocomposites are still unrevealed. In this current work, the sulfonated CNC (SCNC) and phosphorylated CNC (PCNC) are prepared and grafted with PDLA by surface-initiated ring-opening polymerization. The removal of ionic groups is observed on the surface of SCNC and PCNC after modification, but it has an opposite effect on the thermal stability of the grafted CNC particles. The thermal stability of SCNC-g increases compared with SCNC while PCNC-g decreases compared with PCNC. Consequently, the large difference in thermal stability of the pristine CNCs disappears after grafting and PCNC-g only shows slightly higher thermal stability than SCNC-g. Although the average PDLA grafting content is similar, the number and length of grafted chains are different on SCNC-g and PCNC-g. The grafted chain length on SCNC-g is 4 times as large as that on PCNC-g, which facilitates the formation of interfacial stereocomplex (SC) crystallites in the SCNC-g/PLLA nanocomposites. The SC crystallites improve the thermal stability of the nanocomposites and accelerate the matrix crystallization kinetics. PCNC-g/PLLA samples contrarily show earlier decomposition and lower crystallinity due to the absence of SC crystallites. This study could provide some insights into the effects of ionic groups in the surface grafting process of CNC and the influences on interfacial structure and property of the PLLA nanocomposite.

Graphical abstract


Cellulose nanocrystal Ionic group Grafting Nanocomposite PLA stereocomplexation 



This research was financially supported by the National Science Foundation of China with Grant No. 51503055 and the Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Province with Grant No. 1608085ME88. The authors appreciate the inspiring discussion with Mr. Xiao Lou and Jinlei Wang in Hefei University of Technology. Mrs. Chris Talmage in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA is acknowledged for the assistance of language revision.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10570_2018_2086_MOESM1_ESM.docx (796 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 795 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Polymer Science and Engineering, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Advanced Functional Materials and DevicesHefei University of TechnologyHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Applied Chemistry, School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Instrumental Analysis CenterHefei University of TechnologyHefeiPeople’s Republic of China

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