Langmuir, Vol.34, No.2, 646-652, 2018
Tactoid Annealing Improves Order in Self-Assembled Cellulose Nanocrystal Films with Chiral Nematic Structures
The self-assembly process in cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) film formation was studied as a function of evaporation time. It is known that the total evaporation time of CNC dispersions affects the structure of the film obtained, but the extension of different phases of the evaporation has not been explored. By extending the evaporation time of CNC suspensions after the onset of liquid crystallinity, the homogeneity of the resulting films could be improved as observed by polarized optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Here, we show that an intermediate stage of self-assembly, between phase separation and gel vitrification, called tactoid annealing, helps explain the discrepancies in order for chiral nematic CNC films dried at varying evaporation times. This intermediate stage of self-assembly may be useful for designing highly ordered and homogenous CNC-based materials.