Effect of Anisotropy of Cellulose Nanocrystal Suspensions on Stratification, Domain Structure Formation, and Structural Colors

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  • North Carolina State University


Outstanding optical and mechanical properties can be obtained from hierarchical assemblies of nanoparticles. Herein, the formation of helically ordered, chiral nematic films obtained from aqueous suspensions of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were studied as a function of the initial suspension state. Specifically, nanoparticle organization and the structural colors displayed by the resultant dry films were investigated as a function of the anisotropic volume fraction (AVF), which depended on the initial CNC concentration and equilibration time. The development of structural color and the extent of macroscopic stratification were studied by optical and scanning electron microscopy as well as UV–vis spectroscopy. Overall, suspensions above the critical threshold required for formation of liquid crystals resulted in CNC films assembled with longer ranged order, more homogeneous pitches along the cross sections, and narrower specific absorption bands. This effect was more pronounced for the suspensions that were closer to equilibrium prior to drying. Thus, we show that high AVF and more extensive phase separation in CNC suspensions resulted in large, long-range ordered chiral nematic domains in dried films. Additionally, the average CNC aspect ratio and size distribution in the two separated phases were measured and correlated to the formation of structured domains in the dried assemblies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2931-2943
Number of pages13
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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