Cellulose nanopapers, known for excellent mechanical properties, loses 90% of their stiffness in the wet conditions. In this study, we attempt to improve the wet mechanical properties of cellulose nanopaper by incorporating polyurethane by a novel and ecofriendly method. Water based PU was dispersed along with CNFs in water and hybrid nanopapers were prepared by draining water under vacuum followed by forced drying. These hybrid nanopapers have a gradient interpenetrating structure with PU concentrated towards one side and CNFs towards the other, which was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and contact angle measurements. Because of this, the nanopapers are water resistant on one surface (PU rich side) and hydrophilic on the other (cellulose rich side), making them stereoselectively water resistant. When wetted with water on the PU side, the hybrid nanopaper with 10% PU is able to retain 65% modulus; on the other hand, the reference retains only 10% of the modulus. Similar results are seen in the tensile and the yield strength. Additionally, the hybrid nanopapers have higher elongation and improved thermal stability. The reported material is relevant to the applications such as flexible electronics and transparent displays.
- Cellulose nanopapers
- Flexible composites
- Gradient interpenetrating network
- Hybrid materials
- Water resistance