Title page for ETD etd-08082011-223736

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Pillai, Karthik
URN etd-08082011-223736
Title Bio-inspired Cellulose Nanocomposites
Degree PhD
Department Macromolecular Science and Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Renneckar, Scott H. Committee Chair
Edgar, Kevin J. Committee Member
Esker, Alan R. Committee Member
Frazier, Charles E. Committee Member
Roman, Maren Committee Member
  • Nanocellulose
  • Nanocomposite
  • Biomimetic
  • Layer-by-layer (LbL)
  • QCM-D
  • AFM
Date of Defense 2011-04-26
Availability unrestricted
Natural composites like wood are scale-integrated structures that range from molecular to the macroscopic scale. Inspired by this design, layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition technique was used to create lignocellulosic composites from isolated wood polymers namely cellulose and lignin, with a lamellar architecture. In the first phase of the study, adsorption of alkali lignin onto cationic surfaces was investigated using a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D). Complete coverage of the cationic surface with alkali lignin occured at low solution concentration; large affinity coefficients were calculated for this system at differing pH levels. Adsorption studies with organosolv lignin in an organic solvent, and spectroscopic analysis of mixtures of cationic polymer with alkali lignin revealed a non-covalent interaction. The work demonstrated how noncovalent interactions could be exploited to molecular organize thin polyphenolic biopolymers on cationic surfaces. The second phase of the study examined the adsorption steps during the LbL assembly process to create novel lignocellulosic composites. LbL assembly was carried out using oxidized nanocellulose (NC) and lignin, along with a cationic polymer poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA). QCM-D was used to follow the sequential adsorption process of the three different polymers. Two viscoelastic models, namely Johannsmann and Voigt, were respectively used to calculate the areal mass and thickness of the adsorbed layers. Atomic force microscopy studies showed a complete coverage of the surface with lignin in all the disposition cycles, however, surface coverage with NC was seen to increase with the number of layers. Free-standing composite films were obtained when the LbL process was carried out for 250 deposition cycles (500 bilayers) on a cellulose acetate substrate, following the dissolution of the substrate in acetone. Scanning electron microscopy of the cryo-fractured cross-sections showed a lamellar structure, and the thickness per adsorption cycle was estimated to be 17 nm. The third phase of the study investigated the effect of LbL ordering of the polymers versus a cast film composed of a blended mixture of the polymers, using dynamic mechanical analysis. A tan  peak was observed in the 30 – 40 ºC region for both films, which was observed in the neat NC film. Heating of the samples under a compressive force produced opposite effects in the films, as the LbL films exhibited swelling, whereas the cast films showed densification. The apparent activation energy of this transition (65 – 80 kJ mol-1) in cast films, calculated based on the Arrhenius equation was found to be coincident to those reported for the  transition of amorphous cellulose. The peak was seen to disappear in case of LbL films in the second heat, whereas it was recurring in case of cast films of the blended mixture, and neat NC films. Altogether, the together the work details a novel path to integrate an organized lignin and cellulose molecular structure, albeit modified from their native form, into a three-dimensional composite material.
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