Dependence of Sum Frequency Generation (SFG) Spectral Features on the Mesoscale Arrangement of SFG-Active Crystalline Domains Interspersed in SFG-Inactive Matrix: A Case Study with Cellulose in Uniaxially Aligned Control Samples and Alkali-Treated Secondary Cell Walls of Plants

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Research units

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy can selectively detect not only molecules at two-dimensional (2D) interfaces but also noncentrosymmetric domains interspersed in amorphous three-dimensional (3D) matrixes. However, the SFG analysis of 3D systems is more complicated than 2D systems because more variables are involved. One such variable is the distance between SFG-active domains in SFG-inactive matrixes. In this study, we fabricated control samples in which SFG-active cellulose crystals were uniaxially aligned in an amorphous matrix. Assuming uniform separation distances between cellulose crystals, the relative intensities of alkyl (CH) and hydroxyl (OH) SFG peaks of cellulose could be related to the intercrystallite distance. The experimentally measured CH/OH intensity ratio as a function of the intercrystallite distance could be explained reasonably well with a model constructed using the theoretically calculated hyperpolarizabilities of cellulose and the symmetry cancellation principle of dipoles antiparallel to each other. This comparison revealed physical insights into the intercrystallite distance dependence of the CH/OH SFG intensity ratio of cellulose, which can be used to interpret the SFG spectral features of plant cell walls in terms of mesoscale packing of cellulose microfibrils.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10249-10257
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 27869024