Structural Variations in Hybrid All-Nanoparticle Gibbsite Nanoplatelet/Cellulose Nanocrystal Multilayered Films
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Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are promising biosourced building blocks for the production of high performance materials. In the last ten years, CNCs have been used in conjunction with polymers for the design of multilayered thin films via the layer-by-layer assembly technique. Herein, polymer chains have been replaced with positively charged inorganic gibbsite nanoplatelets (GN) to form hybrid "nanoparticle-only" composite films. A combination of atomic force microscopy and neutron reflectivity experiments was exploited to investigate the growth and structure of the films. Data show that the growth and density of GN/CNC films can be tuned over a wide range during preparation by varying the ionic strength in the CNC suspension and the film drying protocol. Specifically, thin and dense multilayered films or very thick, more porous mixed slabs, as well as intermediate internal structures, could be obtained in a predictable manner. The influence of key physicochemical parameters on the multilayer film buildup was elucidated and the film architecture was linked to the dominating interaction forces between the components. The degree of structural control over these hybrid nanoparticle-only films is much higher than that reported for CNC/polymer films, which offers new properties and potential applications as separation membranes or flame retardant coatings.
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