Morphological and Optical Characterization of Polyelectrolyte Multilayers Incorporating Nanocrystalline Cellulose
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Aqueous layer-by-layer (LbL) processing was used to create polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) nanocomposites containing cellulose nanocrystals and poly(allylamine hydrochloride). Solution-dipping and spin-coating assembly methods gave smooth, stable, thin films. Morphology was studied by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and film growth was characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), ellipsometry, and optical reflectometry. Relatively few deposition cycles were needed to give full surface coverage, with film thicknesses ranging from 10 to 500 nm. Films prepared by spin-coating were substantially thicker than solution-dipped films and displayed radial orientation of the rod-shaped cellulose nanocrystals. The relationship between film color and thickness is discussed according to the principles of thin film interference and indicates that the iridescent properties of the films can be easily tailored in this system.