Biophysics and Soft Matter Seminar

Surface Engineering of Nanocellulose for Sustainable Bioproduct Development

Emily Cranston, UBC Forestry
Location: P8445.2 

Wednesday, 08 November 2023 11:30AM PST


By learning from nature and using bio-based building blocks we can engineer sustainable high-performance materials with improved functionality. Nanocelluloses have entered the marketplace as new ingredients for formulated chemical products, composites and engineering processing technologies. Although cellulose is the most abundant natural substance on earth, nanocelluloses are anything but common – they possess exceptionally high mechanical strength and align in electromagnetic fields; they are more chemically, colloidally and thermally stable than most bio-based materials; they exhibit unique optical and self-assembly properties, all while retaining the non-toxicity and biodegradability of cellulose. However, the surface chemistry of nanocellulose must be well understood and controlled in order to optimize the interactions, stability and compatibility with liquids, polymers and small molecules. My research group aims to bridge the gap between industrial nanocellulose producers, R&D, and potential end users by exploring fundamentals. In this talk, I will highlight my group’s contributions in the areas of: benchmarking commercial cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs); nanocellulose-stabilized emulsions and latexes for applications in cosmetics, food, paints, coatings and adhesives; CNC-templated energy storage and production devices; and advanced characterization methods for nanomaterials. Overall, we believe that this improved understanding of CNCs and how to control their assembly is crucial for the commercialization of greener next-generation technologies.