Biopolymer nanocomposite films reinforced with nanocellulose whiskers
A xylan nanocomposite film with improved strength and barrier properties was prepared by a solution casting using nanocellulose whiskers as a reinforcing agent. The 13C cross-polarization magic angle spinning (CP/MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of the spectral data obtained for the NCW/xylan nanocomposite films indicated the signal intensity originating from xylan-cellulose interactions. Qualitatively, the spectral data obtained for the NCW/xylan nanocomposite films indicated that the amount of xylan adsorbed to cellulose increases with the addition of NCW. In an attempt to quantify this effect, non-linear least-squared spectral line fitting was used to deconvolute the adsorbed xylan peak at ~82 ppm. The peak intensity ratio of adsorbed xylan peak and xylan C1 peak, which represents the total amount of xylan increases suggesting that upon the addition of NCW, the amount of adsorbed xylan increases. In an effort to further infer the structure-property relationships associated with the observed strength and barrier properties, 1H NMR T2 relaxation experiments were also conducted to investigate the change in the nature of carbohydrate–water interactions as a result of NCW incorporation. Water adsorbed into the 50% nanocomposite film had significantly shorter relaxation times with respect to the control xylan/sorbitol and all other NCW/xylan nanocomposite films. Additionally, X-ray diffraction of the nanocomposite films showed increased levels of crystalline material in the nanocomposites due to NCW addition.