Lignin Nanoparticle Nucleation and Growth on Cellulose and Chitin Nanofibers

Eva Pasquier, Bruno D. Mattos, Naceur Belgacem, Julien Bras, Orlando J. Rojas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Cellulose (CNF) and chitin (ChNF) nanofibers are known to form materials that are both tough and strong. In this study, we hypothesize that the inertness of networks produced from CNF and ChNF makes them ideal templates for heterogeneous reactions and in situ formation of nanoarchitectures. We expand nanoparticle templating on polysaccharide colloids by introducing a new and facile process that leads to the growth of organic nanoparticles on CNF and ChNF in aqueous media. The process, based on solvent shifting supported on solid interfaces, is demonstrated by direct observation of lignin nanoparticles that are further used for their photocatalytic activity. Importantly, the dynamics of nanoparticle nucleation and growth is correlated with the surface chemistry of the templating nanopolysaccharides. Electrostatic repulsion between the deprotonated lignin molecules and the slightly negative CNF support led to limited adsorption and was effective in producing free (nonbound) lignin nanoparticles (28 ± 7 nm) via precipitation. In contrast, the stronger interfacial interactions between the positively charged ChNF and lignin molecules facilitated instantaneous and extensive lignin adsorption, followed by nucleation and growth into relatively larger nanoparticles (46 ± 17 nm). The latter were homogeneously distributed and strongly coupled to the ChNF support. Overall, we introduce lignin nanoparticle nucleation and growth on renewable nanopolysaccharides, offering an effective route toward in situ synthesis of highly functional fibrils and related cohesive films that offer a great potential in packaging and other applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0c01596
Number of pages10
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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