Nanocomposite films based on xylan-rich hemicelluloses and cellulose nanofibers with enhanced mechanical properties.Biomacromolecules. 2011 Sep 12; 12(9):3321-9.B
Interest in xylan-rich hemicelluloses (XH) film is growing, and efforts have been made to prepare XH films with improved mechanical properties. This work described an effective approach to produce nanocomposite films with enhanced mechanical properties by incorporation of cellulose nanofibers (CNFs) into XH. Aqueous dispersions of XH (64-75 wt %), sorbitol (16-25 wt %), and CNF (0-20 wt %) were cast at a temperature of 23 °C and 50% relative humidity. The surface morphology of the films was revealed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The thermal properties and crystal structure of the films were evaluated by thermal analysis (TG) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The surface of XH films with and without CNF was composed primarily of nanonodules, and CNFs were embedded in the XH matrix. Freeze-dried XH powder was amorphous, whereas the films with and without CNF showed a distinct peak at around 2θ = 18°, which suggested that XH molecules aggregated or reordered in the casting solution or during water evaporation. Furthermore, the nanocomposite films had improved thermal stability. XH film with 25 wt % plasticizer (sorbitol, based on dry XH weight) showed poor mechanical properties, whereas incorporation of CNF (5-20 wt %, based on the total dry mixture) into the film resulted in enhanced mechanical properties due to the high aspect ratio and mechanical strength of CNF and strong interactions between CNF and XH matrix. This effective method makes it possible to produce hemicellulose-based biomaterials of high quality.