Solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of crystalline cellulosic materials using a direct dissolution ionic liquid electrolyte

Lukas Fliri, Katja Heise, Tetyana Koso, Aleksandar R. Todorov, Daniel Rico del Cerro, Sami Hietala, Juha Fiskari, Ilkka Kilpeläinen, Michael Hummel*, Alistair W.T. King*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Owing to its high sustainable production capacity, cellulose represents a valuable feedstock for the development of more sustainable alternatives to currently used fossil fuel-based materials. Chemical analysis of cellulose remains challenging, and analytical techniques have not advanced as fast as the development of the proposed materials science applications. Crystalline cellulosic materials are insoluble in most solvents, which restricts direct analytical techniques to lower-resolution solid-state spectroscopy, destructive indirect procedures or to ‘old-school’ derivatization protocols. While investigating their use for biomass valorization, tetralkylphosphonium ionic liquids (ILs) exhibited advantageous properties for direct solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of crystalline cellulose. After screening and optimization, the IL tetra-n-butylphosphonium acetate [P4444][OAc], diluted with dimethyl sulfoxide-d 6, was found to be the most promising partly deuterated solvent system for high-resolution solution-state NMR. The solvent system has been used for the measurement of both 1D and 2D experiments for a wide substrate scope, with excellent spectral quality and signal-to-noise, all with modest collection times. The procedure initially describes the scalable syntheses of an IL, in 24–72 h, of sufficient purity, yielding a stock electrolyte solution. The dissolution of cellulosic materials and preparation of NMR samples is presented, with pretreatment, concentration and dissolution time recommendations for different sample types. Also included is a set of recommended 1D and 2D NMR experiments with parameters optimized for an in-depth structural characterization of cellulosic materials. The time required for full characterization varies between a few hours and several days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2084–2123
JournalNature Protocols
Issue number7
Early online date26 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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