Chemical Modification of Reducing End-Groups in Cellulose Nanocrystals

Katja Heise*, Gwendoline Delepierre, Alistair W.T. King, Mauri A. Kostiainen, Justin Zoppe, Christoph Weder, Eero Kontturi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Native plant cellulose has an intrinsic supramolecular structure. Consequently, it can be isolated as nanocellulose species, which can be utilized as building blocks for renewable nanomaterials. The structure of cellulose also permits its end-wise modification, i.e., chemical reactions exclusively on one end of a cellulose chain or a nanocellulose particle. The premises for end-wise modification have been known for decades. Nevertheless, different approaches for the reactions have emerged only recently, because of formidable synthetic and analytical challenges associated with the issue, including the adverse reactivity of the cellulose reducing end and the low abundance of newly introduced functionalities. This Review gives a full account of the scientific underpinnings and challenges related to end-wise modification of cellulose nanocrystals. Furthermore, we present how the chemical modification of cellulose nanocrystal ends may be applied to directed assembly, resulting in numerous possibilities for the construction of new materials, such as responsive liquid crystal templates and composites with tailored interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-87
Number of pages22
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • analytical methods
  • mutarotation
  • nanostructures
  • polymerization
  • structure–activity relationships


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