Journal of Materials Science, Vol.45, No.1, 1-33, 2010
Review: current international research into cellulose nanofibres and nanocomposites
This paper provides an overview of recent progress made in the area of cellulose nanofibre-based nanocomposites. An introduction into the methods used to isolate cellulose nanofibres (nanowhiskers, nanofibrils) is given, with details of their structure. Following this, the article is split into sections dealing with processing and characterisation of cellulose nanocomposites and new developments in the area, with particular emphasis on applications. The types of cellulose nanofibres covered are those extracted from plants by acid hydrolysis (nanowhiskers), mechanical treatment and those that occur naturally (tunicate nanowhiskers) or under culturing conditions (bacterial cellulose nanofibrils). Research highlighted in the article are the use of cellulose nanowhiskers for shape memory nanocomposites, analysis of the interfacial properties of cellulose nanowhisker and nanofibril-based composites using Raman spectroscopy, switchable interfaces that mimic sea cucumbers, polymerisation from the surface of cellulose nanowhiskers by atom transfer radical polymerisation and ring opening polymerisation, and methods to analyse the dispersion of nanowhiskers. The applications and new advances covered in this review are the use of cellulose nanofibres to reinforce adhesives, to make optically transparent paper for electronic displays, to create DNA-hybrid materials, to generate hierarchical composites and for use in foams, aerogels and starch nanocomposites and the use of all-cellulose nanocomposites for enhanced coupling between matrix and fibre. A comprehensive coverage of the literature is given and some suggestions on where the field is likely to advance in the future are discussed.