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Characterization of cellulose nanocrystals dispersion in varnishes by backscattering of laser light

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Cellulose nanocrystals were mixed into an aqueous UV-cured coating formulation in order to improve the mechanical properties of the coating. One of the key aspects in the technology of nanocomposites remains the dispersion of the nanoparticles within the matrix. To quantify the dispersion, efficient methods of characterization are needed. In this study, a new characterization method based on atomic force microscopy (AFM) and backscattering of laser light (He–Ne 632.8 nm) is applied to characterize such nanocomposite coatings. The angular distribution of backscattered light intensity was approximated by Gaussian distribution, and its standard deviation was used for the surface roughness analyses. A strong correlation between surface nano-roughness of coatings and angular distribution (half-width of the angular spread) of backscattered laser light was found. This laser characterization is faster and may be done without direct contact over a wider surface than AFM and may give us an idea about mechanical properties of coatings. This method can advance our fundamental understanding of dispersion of the nanoparticles in coatings and could be of use in quality control in industry.

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We thank Arboranano, Nanoquebec, FRNTQ (Québec, Canada) for funding this project as well as FPInnovations’ pilot plant and Dr. Gregory Chauve for the production of CNC, as well as Dr. Veronic Landry and Dr. Bouddah Poaty for advice during experiments.

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Correspondence to Bernard Riedl.

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Vardanyan, V., Galstian, T. & Riedl, B. Characterization of cellulose nanocrystals dispersion in varnishes by backscattering of laser light. J Coat Technol Res 12, 647–656 (2015).

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