Infiltration of proteins in cholesteric cellulose structures

Livia K. Bast, Konrad W. Klockars, Luiz G. Greca, Orlando J. Rojas, Blaise L. Tardy, Nico Bruns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) can spontaneously self-assemble into chiral nematic (cn) structures, similar to natural cholesteric organizations. The latter display highly dissipative fracture propagation mechanisms given their "brick"(particles) and "mortar"(soft matrix) architecture. Unfortunately, CNCs in liquid media have strong supramolecular interactions with most macromolecules, leading to aggregated suspensions. Herein, we describe a method to prepare nanocomposite materials from chiral nematic CNCs (cn-CNCs) with strongly interacting secondary components. Films of cn-CNCs were infiltrated at various loadings with strongly interacting silk proteins and bovine serum albumin. For comparison and to determine the molecular weight range of macromolecules that can infiltrate cn-CNC films, they were also infiltrated with a range of poly(ethylene glycol) polymers that do not interact strongly with CNCs. The extent and impact of infiltration were evaluated by studying the optical reflection properties of the resulting hybrid materials (UV-vis spectroscopy), while fracture dissipation mechanisms were observed via electron microscopy. We propose that infiltration of cn-CNCs enables the introduction of virtually any secondary phase for nanocomposite formation that is otherwise not possible using simple mixing or other conventional approaches.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)2067-2080
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - 10 May 2021


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