What is it about?

Herein, a methodology for enhancing the contrast of CNC, through atomic layer deposition (ALD) of alumina (Al2O3) on CNCs is demonstrated. The metal oxide coated CNC allows clear visualization by transmission electron microscopy, when they are dispersed in water and polyol. A coating of about 6 ± 1 nm thick alumina layer on the CNC is achieved after 50 ALD cycles. This also enables the characterization of CNC dispersion/orientation (at 0.2 wt% loading) in an amorphous cellular system rigid polyurethane foam (RPUF), using backscattered electron microscopy with energy‐dispersive X‐ray spectroscopy.

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Why is it important?

Analysis of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) at low volume fractions in polymer nanocomposites through conventional electron microscopy still remains a challenge due to insufficient contrast between CNCs and organic polymer matrices. John F. Conley Jr., Pratheep K. Annamalai, and co‐workers briefly demonstrate the application of atomic layer deposition to enhance the contrast of nanocellulose through a coating of alumina on nanocellulose and enabling microscopic characterisation. By incorporating alumina coated nanocellulose in a polyurethane foam, it also demonstrates nanocellulose alignment in the foam‐rise direction.

Perspectives

The alumina coated nanocellulose may offer various applications as aerogel and in batteries and additive manufacturing.

Dr Pratheep K Annamalai
University of Queensland

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This page is a summary of: Atomic Layer Deposition of Metal Oxide on Nanocellulose for Enabling Microscopic Characterization of Polymer Nanocomposites, Small, October 2018, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/smll.201803439.
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