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Cellulose Nanocrystals the Next Big Nano-thing?



Michael T. Postek, Andras Vladar, John A. Dagata, Natalia Farkas, Bin Ming, Ronald Sabo, Theodore H. Wegner


Biomass surrounds us from the smallest alga to the largest redwood tree. Even the largest trees owe their strength to a newly-appreciated class of nanomaterials known as cellulose nanocrystals (CNC). Cellulose, the world s most abundant natural, renewable, biodegradable polymer, occurs as whisker like microfibrils that are biosynthesized and deposited in plant material in a continuous fashion. Therefore, the basic raw materials for a future of new nanomaterials breakthroughs already abound in the environment and are available to be utilized in an array of future materials once the manufacturing processes and nanometrology are fully developed. This presentation will discuss some of the instrumentation, metrology and standards issues associated with nanomanufacturing of cellulose nanocrystals. The use of lignocellulosic fibers derived from sustainable, annually renewable resources as a reinforcing phase in polymeric matrix composites provides positive environmental benefits with respect to ultimate disposability and raw material use. Today we lack the essential metrology infrastructure that would enable the manufacture of nanotechnology-based products based on CNCs (or other new nanomaterial) to significantly impact the U.S. economy. The basic processes common to manufacturing qualification of raw materials, continuous synthesis methods, process monitoring and control, in-line and off-line characterization of product for quality control purposes, validation by standard reference materials are not generally in place for nanotechnology based products, and thus are barriers to innovation. One advantage presented by the study of CNCs is that, unlike other nanomaterials, at least, cellulose nanocrystal manufacturing is already a sustainable and viable bulk process. Literally tons of cellulose nanocrystals can be generated each day, producing other viable byproducts such as glucose (for alternative fuel) and gypsum (for buildings).There is an immediate need for the development of the basic manufacturing metrology infrastructure to implement fundamental best practices for manufacturing and in the determination of properties for these for nanoscale materials and the resultant products.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of SPIE
Conference Dates
August 10-14, 2008
Conference Location
San Diego, CA
Conference Title
Instrumentation, Metrology, and Standards for Nanomanufacturing


Cellulose, nanofibers, nanocrystal, microscopy, standards, metrology, measurement


Postek, M. , Vladar, A. , Dagata, J. , Farkas, N. , Ming, B. , Sabo, R. and Wegner, T. (2008), Cellulose Nanocrystals the Next Big Nano-thing?, Proceedings of SPIE, San Diego, CA (Accessed July 18, 2024)


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Created August 6, 2008, Updated February 19, 2017