, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 2727–2741 | Cite as

Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)/cellulose nano-crystal (CNC) nanocomposites and foams

  • Hao-Yang Mi
  • Xin Jing
  • Jun Peng
  • Max R. Salick
  • Xiang-Fang Peng
  • Lih-Sheng Turng
Original Paper


Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)/cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) nanocomposites were produced via twin-screw extrusion. Microcellular nanocomposite samples were produced with microcellular injection molding using carbon dioxide (CO2) as physical blowing agent. The foaming behavior, physical properties, thermal properties, crystallization behavior, and biocompatibility were investigated. It was found that the CNCs interacted with the PCL matrix which led to a strong interface. The CNCs effectively acted as nucleation agents in microcellular injection molding. Both solid and foamed samples with higher levels of CNC content showed higher tensile moduli, complex viscosities, and storage moduli due to the reinforcement effects of CNCs. Furthermore, improvement in the foamed samples was more significant due to their fine cell structure. The addition of CNCs caused a reduction of the decomposition temperature and an increase in the glass transition temperature, crystallization temperature, and crystallinity of PCL. Moreover, the biocompatibility of the foamed nanocomposites with low CNC content was verified by 3T3 fibroblast cell culture.


Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) Foaming Mechanical properties Thermal properties Crystallization Biocompatibility 



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID), the China Scholarship Council (CSC), the financial support of the National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 51073061, No. 21174044), the Guangdong Nature Science Foundation (No. S2013020013855, No. 9151064101000066), and National Basic Research Development Program 973 (No. 2012CB025902) in China. Great appreciation is given to Rick Reiner of the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory for producing the cellulose nanomaterials used in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Engineering Research Center of Novel Equipment for Polymer ProcessingSouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Wisconsin Institute for DiscoveryUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Engineering PhysicsUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA

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