Accounting for Substrate Interactions in the Measurement of the Dimensions of Cellulose Nanofibrils

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Mechanically fibrillated cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) have attracted special attention as building blocks for the development of advanced materials and composites. A correlation exists between CNF morphology and the properties of the materials they form. However, this correlation is often evaluated indirectly by process-centered approaches or by accessing a single dimensionality of CNFs adsorbed on solid supports. High-resolution imaging is currently the best approach to describe the morphological features of nanocelluloses; nevertheless, adsorption effects need to be accounted for. For instance, possible deformations of the CNFs arising from capillary forces and interactions with the substrate need to be considered in the determination of their cross-sectional dimensions. By considering soft matter imaging and adsorption effects, we provide evidence of the deformation of CNFs upon casting and drying. We determine a substantial flattening associated with the affinity of CNFs with the substrate corresponding to a highly anisotropic cross-sectional geometry (ellipsoidal) in the dried state. Negative-contrast scanning electron microscopy is also introduced as a new method to assess the dimensions of the CNFs. The images obtained by the latter, a faster imaging method, were correlated with those from atomic force microscopy. The cross-sectional area of the CNF is reconstructed by cross-correlating the widths and heights obtained by the two techniques.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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ID: 35343459