, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 395–405 | Cite as

Synthesis of cellulose–metal nanoparticle composites: development and comparison of different protocols

  • Sumaira Ashraf
  • Saif-ur-Rehman
  • Falak Sher
  • Zafar Mahmood Khalid
  • Mazhar Mehmood
  • Irshad Hussain
Original Paper


Deposition of nanoparticles on the surface of a variety of materials is a subject of great interest due to their potential applications in electronic devices, sensing, catalysis and bio-medical sciences. In this context, we have explored and compared various methodologies to generate gold and silver nanoparticles on the surface of cellulose fibers. It was found that boiling of the cellulose fibers in alkaline solution of gold and silver salts led to the formation and immobilization of gold and silver nanoparticles. However, in case of lecithin treated and thiol-modified cellulose fibers, high temperature was not essentially required for the formation and deposition of nanoparticles on cellulose substrate. In both these cases, fairly uniform metal nanoparticles were obtained in good yields (~43 wt% gold loading in case of thiol modified cellulose fibers) at room temperature. Borohydride-reduction method resulted in relatively lower loading (~22 wt%) with a wide size distribution of gold and silver nanoparticles on cellulose fibers. All these nanoparticle–cellulose composites were thoroughly characterized using scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, UV–visible spectroscopy, and elemental analyzer. Thiol modified cellulose–gold nanoparticle composites served as active catalysts in the reduction of 4-nitrophenol into 4-aminophenol.


Cellulose Thiol-modified cellulose Lecithin Cellulose–metal nanoparticle composites Catalysis 



We acknowledge the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Government of Pakistan, for financial support to Dr. Sumaira Ashraf for her PhD studies. We are also thankful to ex-National Commission on Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Government of Pakistan, for financial support to initiate nano-biotechnology research at NIBGE. IH thanks LUMS School of Science and Engineering (SSE), Lahore, Pakistan for providing start-up funds and supporting his research team. A part of this work was supported by DAAD project (ID 54372132) awarded to IH and Wolfgang J. Parak at Philipps University, Marburg, Germany. We are also thankful to Professor Wolfgang Parak for his support in characterizing the nanoparticle samples and intellectual discussion.

Supplementary material

10570_2013_129_MOESM1_ESM.docx (747 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 746 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sumaira Ashraf
    • 1
    • 3
  • Saif-ur-Rehman
    • 1
  • Falak Sher
    • 2
  • Zafar Mahmood Khalid
    • 1
  • Mazhar Mehmood
    • 3
  • Irshad Hussain
    • 2
  1. 1.National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE)FaisalabadPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, SBA School of Science and Engineering (SBASSE)Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)Lahore Cantt.Pakistan
  3. 3.Department of Metallurgy and Materials EngineeringPakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied SciencesIslamabadPakistan

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