Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 66

Search results for: nanocrystals

66 Extraction of Cellulose Nanocrystals from Soy Pods

Authors: Maycon dos Santos, Marivane Turim Koschevic, Karina Sayuri Ueda, Marcello Lima Bertuci, Farayde Matta Fackhouri, Silvia Maria Martelli

Abstract:

The use of cellulose nanocrystals as reinforcing agents in polymer nanocomposites is promising. In this study, we tested four different methods of mercerization were divided into two stages. The sample was treated in 5% NaOH solution for 30 minutes at 50 ° C in the first stage and 30vol H2O2 for 2 hours at 50 ° C in the second step, which showed better results. For the extraction of the sample obtained nanocrystals positive result was that the solution was treated with H2SO4 60% (w / w) for 1 hour at 50 ° C. The results were positive and showed that it is possible to extract CNC at low temperatures.

Keywords: soy pods, cellulose nanocrystals, temperature, acid concentration

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65 InP Nanocrystals Core and Surface Electronic Structure from Ab Initio Calculations

Authors: Hamad R. Jappor, Zeyad Adnan Saleh, Mudar A. Abdulsattar

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The ab initio restricted Hartree-Fock method is used to simulate the electronic structure of indium phosphide (InP) nanocrystals (NCs) (216-738 atoms) with sizes ranging up to about 2.5 nm in diameter. The calculations are divided into two parts, surface, and core. The oxygenated (001)-(1×1) facet that expands with larger sizes of nanocrystals is investigated to determine the rule of the surface in nanocrystals electronic structure. Results show that lattice constant and ionicity of the core part show decreasing order as nanocrystals grow up in size. The smallest investigated nanocrystal is 1.6% larger in lattice constant and 131.05% larger in ionicity than the converged value of largest investigated nanocrystal. Increasing nanocrystals size also resulted in an increase of core cohesive energy (absolute value), increase of core energy gap, and increase of core valence. The surface states are found mostly non-degenerated because of the effect of surface discontinuity and oxygen atoms. Valence bandwidth is wider on the surface due to splitting and oxygen atoms. The method also shows fluctuations in the converged energy gap, valence bandwidth and cohesive energy of core part of nanocrystals duo to shape variation. The present work suggests the addition of ionicity and lattice constant to the quantities that are affected by quantum confinement phenomenon. The method of the present model has threefold results; it can be used to approach the electronic structure of crystals bulk, surface, and nanocrystals.

Keywords: InP, nanocrystals core, ionicity, Hartree-Fock method, large unit cell

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64 Luminescent Si Nanocrystals Synthesized by Si Ion Implantation and Reactive Pulsed Laser Deposition: The Effects of RTA, Excimer-Uv and E-Beam Irradiation

Authors: Tsutomu Iwayama, Takayuki Hama

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Si ion implantation was widely used to synthesize specimens of SiO2 containing supersaturated Si and subsequent high temperature annealing induces the formation of embedded luminescent Si nanocrystals. In this work, the potentialities of excimer UV-light (172 nm, 7.2 eV) irradiation and rapid thermal annealing (RTA) to enhance the photoluminescence and to achieve low temperature formation of Si nanocrystals have been investigated. The Si ions were introduced at acceleration energy of 180 keV to fluence of 7.5 x 1016 ions/cm2. The implanted samples were subsequently irradiated with an excimer-UV lamp. After the process, the samples were rapidly thermal annealed before furnace annealing (FA). Photoluminescence spectra were measured at various stages at the process. We found that the luminescence intensity is strongly enhanced with excimer-UV irradiation and RTA. Moreover, effective visible photoluminescence is found to be observed even after FA at 900 oC, only for specimens treated with excimer-UV lamp and RTA. We also prepared specimens of Si nanocrystals embedded in a SiO2 by reactive pulsed laser deposition (PLD) in an oxygen atmosphere. We will make clear the similarities and differences with the way of preparation.

Keywords: Ion implantation, photoluminescence, pulsed laser deposition, rapid thermal anneal, Si nanocrystals

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63 Pretreatment of Cattail (Typha domingensis) Fibers to Obtain Cellulose Nanocrystals

Authors: Marivane Turim Koschevic, Maycon dos Santos, Marcello Lima Bertuci, Farayde Matta Fakhouri, Silvia Maria Martelli

Abstract:

Natural fibers are rich raw materials in cellulose and abundant in the world, its use for the cellulose nanocrystals extraction is promising as an example cited is the cattail, macrophyte native weed in South America. This study deals with the pre-treatment cattail of crushed fibers, at six different methods of mercerization, followed by the use of bleaching. As a result, have found The positive effects of treating fibers by means of optical microscopy and spectroscopy, Fourier transform (FTIR). The sample selected for future testing of cellulose nanocrystals extraction was treated in 2.5% NaOH for 2 h, 60 °C in the first stage and 30vol H2O2, NaOH 5% in the proportion 30/70% (v/v) for 1 hour 60 °C, followed by treatment at 50/50% (v/v) 15 minutes, 50°C, with the same constituents of the solution.

Keywords: cellulose nanocrystal, chemical treatment, mercerization, natural fibers

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62 Light Emission Enhancement of Silicon Nanocrystals by Gold Layer

Authors: R. Karmouch

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A thin gold metal layer was deposited on the top of silicon oxide films containing embedded Si nanocrystals (Si-nc). The sample was annealed in gas containing nitrogen, and subsequently characterized by photoluminescence. We obtained 3-fold enhancement of photon emission from the Si-nc embedded in silicon dioxide covered with a Gold layer as compared with an uncovered sample. We attribute this enhancement to the increase of the spontaneous emission rate caused by the coupling of the Si-nc emitters with the surface plasmons (SP). The evolution of PL emission with laser irradiated time was also collected from covered samples, and compared to that from uncovered samples. In an uncovered sample, the PL intensity decreases with time, approximately with two decay constants. Although the decrease of the initial PL intensity associated with the increase of sample temperature under CW pumping is still observed in samples covered with a gold layer, this film significantly contributes to reduce the permanent deterioration of the PL intensity. The resistance to degradation of light-emitting silicon nanocrystals can be increased by SP coupling to suppress the permanent deterioration. Controlling the permanent photodeterioration can allow to perform a reliable optical gain measurement.

Keywords: photodeterioration, silicon nanocrystals, ion implantation, photoluminescence, surface plasmons

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61 Excitation Dependent Luminescence in Cr³+ Doped MgAl₂O₄ Nanocrystals

Authors: Savita, Pargam Vashishtha, Govind Gupta, Ankush Vij, Anup Thakur

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The ligand field dependent visible as well as NIR emission of the Cr³+dopant in spinel hosts has attracted immense attention in tuning the color emitted by the material. In this research, Mg1-xCrxAl₂O₄(x=0.5, 1, 3, 5, and 10 mol%) nanocrystals have been synthesizedby solution combustion method. The synthesized nanocrystals possessed a single phase cubic structure. The strong absorption by host lattice defects (antisite defects, F centres) andd-d transitions of Cr³+ ions lead to radiative emission in the visible and NIR region, respectively. The red-NIR emission in photoluminescence spectra inferred the octahedral symmetry of Cr³+ ions and anticipated the site distortion by the presence ofCr³+ clusters and antisite defects in the vicinity of Cr³+ ions. The thermoluminescence response of UV and γ-irradiated Cr doped MgAl2O4 samples revealed the formation of various shallow and deep defects with doping Cr³+ions. The induced structural cation disorder with an increase in doping concentration caused photoluminescence quenching beyond 3 mol% Cr³+ doping. The color tuning exhibited by Cr doped MgAl₂O₄ nanocrystals by varying Cr³+ ion concentration and excitation wavelength find its applicability in solid state lighting.

Keywords: antisite defects, cation disorder, color tuning, combustion synthesis

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60 Real-Space Mapping of Surface Trap States in Cigse Nanocrystals Using 4D Electron Microscopy

Authors: Riya Bose, Ashok Bera, Manas R. Parida, Anirudhha Adhikari, Basamat S. Shaheen, Erkki Alarousu, Jingya Sun, Tom Wu, Osman M. Bakr, Omar F. Mohammed

Abstract:

This work reports visualization of charge carrier dynamics on the surface of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGSe) nanocrystals in real space and time using four-dimensional scanning ultrafast electron microscopy (4D S-UEM) and correlates it with the optoelectronic properties of the nanocrystals. The surface of the nanocrystals plays a key role in controlling their applicability for light emitting and light harvesting purposes. Typically for quaternary systems like CIGSe, which have many desirable attributes to be used for optoelectronic applications, relative abundance of surface trap states acting as non-radiative recombination centre for charge carriers remains as a major bottleneck preventing further advancements and commercial exploitation of these nanocrystals devices. Though ultrafast spectroscopic techniques allow determining the presence of picosecond carrier trapping channels, because of relative larger penetration depth of the laser beam, only information mainly from the bulk of the nanocrystals is obtained. Selective mapping of such ultrafast dynamical processes on the surfaces of nanocrystals remains as a key challenge, so far out of reach of purely optical probing time-resolved laser techniques. In S-UEM, the optical pulse generated from a femtosecond (fs) laser system is used to generate electron packets from the tip of the scanning electron microscope, instead of the continuous electron beam used in the conventional setup. This pulse is synchronized with another optical excitation pulse that initiates carrier dynamics in the sample. The principle of S-UEM is to detect the secondary electrons (SEs) generated in the sample, which is emitted from the first few nanometers of the top surface. Constructed at different time delays between the optical and electron pulses, these SE images give direct and precise information about the carrier dynamics on the surface of the material of interest. In this work, we report selective mapping of surface dynamics in real space and time of CIGSe nanocrystals applying 4D S-UEM. We show that the trap states can be considerably passivated by ZnS shelling of the nanocrystals, and the carrier dynamics can be significantly slowed down. We also compared and discussed the S-UEM kinetics with the carrier dynamics obtained from conventional ultrafast time-resolved techniques. Additionally, a direct effect of the state trap removal can be observed in the enhanced photoresponse of the nanocrystals after shelling. Direct observation of surface dynamics will not only provide a profound understanding of the photo-physical mechanisms on nanocrystals’ surfaces but also enable to unlock their full potential for light emitting and harvesting applications.

Keywords: 4D scanning ultrafast microscopy, charge carrier dynamics, nanocrystals, optoelectronics, surface passivation, trap states

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59 Optical Properties of Nanocrystalline Europium-Yttrium Titanate EuYTi2O7

Authors: J. Mrazek, R. Skala, S. Bysakh, Ivan Kasik

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Lanthanide-doped yttrium titanium oxides, which crystallize in a pyrochlore structure with general formula (RExY1-x)2Ti2O7 (RE=rare earth element), have been extensively investigated in recent years for their interesting physical and chemical properties. Despite that the pure pyrochlore structure does not present luminescence ability, the presence of yttrium ions in the pyrochlore structure significantly improves the luminescence properties of the RE. Moreover, the luminescence properties of pyrochlores strongly depend on the size of formed nanocrystals. In this contribution, we present a versatile sol-gel synthesis of nanocrystalline EuYTi2O7pyrochlore. The nanocrystalline powders and thin films were prepared by the condensation of titanium(IV)butoxide with europium(III) chloride followed by the calcination. The introduced method leads to the formation of the highly-homogenous nanocrystalline EuYTi2O7 with tailored grain size ranging from 20 nm to 200 nm. The morphology and the structure of the formed nanocrystals are linked to the luminescence properties of Eu3+ ions incorporated into the pyrochlore lattice. The results of XRD and HRTEM analysis show that the Eu3+ and Y3+ ions are regularly distributed inside the lattice. The lifetime of Eu3+ ions in calcinated powders is regularly decreasing from 140 us to 68 us and the refractive index of prepared thin films regularly increases from 2.0 to 2.45 according to the calcination temperature. The shape of the luminescence spectra and the decrease of the lifetime correspond with the crystallinity of prepared powders. The results present fundamental information about the effect of the size of the nanocrystals to their luminescence properties. The promising application of prepared nanocrystals in the field of lasers and planar optical amplifiers is widely discussed in the contribution.

Keywords: europium, luminescence, nanocrystals, sol-gel

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58 Optimization of Lercanidipine Nanocrystals Using Design of Experiments Approach

Authors: Dolly Gadhiya, Jayvadan Patel, Mihir Raval

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Lercanidipine hydrochloride is a calcium channel blockers used for treating angina pectoris and hypertension. Lercanidipine is a BCS Class II drug having poor aqueous solubility. Absolute bioavailability of Lercanidipine is very low and the main reason ascribed for this is poor aqueous solubility of the drug. Design and formulatation of nanocrystals by media milling method was main focus of this study. In this present study preliminary optimization was carried out with one factor at a time (OFAT) approach. For this different parameters like size of milling beads, amount of zirconium beads, types of stabilizer, concentrations of stabilizer, concentrations of drug, stirring speeds and milling time were optimized on the basis of particle size, polydispersity index and zeta potential. From the OFAT model different levels for above parameters selected for Plackett - Burman Design (PBD). Plackett-Burman design having 13 runs involving 6 independent variables was carried out at higher and lower level. Based on statistical analysis of PBD it was found that concentration of stabilizer, concentration of drug and stirring speed have significant impact on particle size, PDI, zeta potential value and saturation solubility. These experimental designs for preparation of nanocrystals were applied successfully which shows increase in aqueous solubility and dissolution rate of Lercanidipine hydrochloride.

Keywords: Lercanidipine hydrochloride, nanocrystals, OFAT, Plackett Burman

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57 Photoluminescence Study of Erbium-Mixed Alkylated Silicon Nanocrystals

Authors: Khamael M. Abualnaja, Lidija Šiller, Benjamin R. Horrocks

Abstract:

Alkylated silicon nanocrystals (C11-SiNCs) were prepared successfully by galvanostatic etching of p-Si(100) wafers followed by a thermal hydrosilation reaction of 1-undecene in refluxing toluene in order to extract C11-SiNCs from porous silicon. Erbium trichloride was added to alkylated SiNCs using a simple mixing chemical route. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first investigation on mixing SiNCs with erbium ions (III) by this chemical method. The chemical characterization of C11-SiNCs and their mixtures with Er3+ (Er/C11-SiNCs) were carried out using X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS). The optical properties of C11-SiNCs and their mixtures with Er3+ were investigated using Raman spectroscopy and photoluminescence (PL). The erbium-mixed alkylated SiNCs shows an orange PL emission peak at around 595 nm that originates from radiative recombination of Si. Er/C11-SiNCs mixture also exhibits a weak PL emission peak at 1536 nm that originates from the intra-4f transition in erbium ions (Er3+). The PL peak of Si in Er/C11-SiNCs mixture is increased in the intensity up to three times as compared to pure C11-SiNCs. The collected data suggest that this chemical mixing route leads instead to a transfer of energy from erbium ions to alkylated SiNCs.

Keywords: photoluminescence, silicon nanocrystals, erbium, Raman spectroscopy

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56 Hysteresis Behavior and Microstructure in Nanostructured Alloys Cu-Fe and Cu-Fe-Co

Authors: Laslouni Warda, M. Azzaz

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The intermetallic-based on transition metal compounds present interesting magnetic properties for the technological applications (permanent magnets, magnetic recording…). Cu70 Fe18Co12 and Cu70 Fe30 nanostructured with crystallite size vary from 10 a 12 nanometers have been developed by a mechanical milling method. For Cu-Fe samples, the iron and copper distribution was clear. The distribution showed a homogeneous distribution of iron and copper in a Cu-Fe obtained after 36 h milling. The structural properties have been performed with X-ray diffraction. With increasing milling times, Fe and Co diffuse into the Cu matrix, which accelerates the formation of the magnetic nanostructure Cu- Fe-Co and Cu-Fe alloys. The magnetic behavior is investigated using Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM). The two alloys nanocrystals possess ferromagnetic character at room temperature

Keywords: Cu-Fe-Co, Cu-Fe, nanocrystals, SEM, hysteresis loops, VSM, anisotropy theory

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55 Advanced Bio-Composite Materials Based on Biopolymer Blends and Cellulose Nanocrystals

Authors: Zineb Kassab, Nassima El Miri, A. Aboulkas, Abdellatif Barakat, Mounir El Achaby

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Recently, more attention has been given to biopolymers with a focus on sustainable development and environmental preservation. Following this tendency, the attempt has been made to replace polymers derived from petroleum with superior biodegradable polymers (biopolymers). In this context, biopolymers are considered potential replacements for conventional plastic materials. However, some of their properties must be improved for better competitiveness, especially regarding their mechanical, thermal and barrier properties. Bio-nanocomposite technology using nanofillers has already been proven as an effective way to produce new materials with specific properties and high performances. With the emergence of nanostructured bio-composite materials, incorporating elongated rod-like cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) has attracted more and more attention in the field of nanotechnology. This study is aimed to develop bio-composite films of biopolymer matrices [Carboxymethyle cellulose (CMC), Starch (ST), Chitosan (CS) and Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)] reinforced with cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) using the solution casting method. The CNC were extracted at a nanometric scale from lignocellulosic fibers via sulfuric acid hydrolysis and then characterized using X-ray diffraction (XRD), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), confocal microscopy, infrared spectroscopy (IR), atomic force and transmission electron microscopies (AFM and TEM) techniques. The as extracted CNC were used as a reinforcing phase to produce a variety of bio-composite films at different CNC loading (0.5-10 wt %) with specific properties. The rheological properties of film-forming solutions (FFS) of bio-composites were studied, and their relation to the casting process was evaluated. Then, the structural, optical transparency, water vapor permeability, thermal stability and mechanical properties of all prepared bio-composite films were evaluated and studied in this report. The high performances of these bio-composite films are expected to have potential in biomaterials or packaging applications.

Keywords: biopolymer composites, cellulose nanocrystals, food packaging, lignocellulosic fibers

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54 Synthesis of Cellulose Nanocrystals from Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch by Using Phosphotungstic Acid

Authors: Yogi Wibisono Budhi, Ferry Iskandar, Veinardi Suendo, Muhammad Fakhrudin, Neng Tresna Umi Culsum

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Oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB), an abundant agro-waste in Indonesia, is being studied as raw material of Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC) synthesis. Instead of conventional acid mineral, phosphotungstic acid (H₃PW₁₂O₄₀, HPW) was used to hydrolyze cellulose due to recycling ability and easy handling. Before hydrolysis process, dried EFB was treated by 4% NaOH solution at 90oC for 2 hours and then bleached using 2% NaClO₂ solution at 80oC for 3 hours to remove hemicellulose and lignin. Hydrolysis reaction parameters such as temperature, acid concentration, and reaction time were optimized with fixed solid-liquid ratio of 1:40. Response surface method was used for experimental design to determine the optimum condition of each parameter. HPW was extracted from the mixed solution and recycled with diethyl ether. CNC was separated from the solution by centrifuging and washing with distilled water and ethanol to remove degraded sugars and unreacted celluloses. In this study, pulp from dried EFB produced 44.8% yield of CNC. Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) analysis showed that most of CNC equivalent diameter was 140 nm. Crystallinity index was observed at 73.3% using X-ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis. Thus, a green established process for the preparation of CNC was achieved.

Keywords: acid hydrolysis, cellulose nanocrystals, oil palm empty fruit bunch, phosphotungstic acid

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53 Mannosylated Oral Amphotericin B Nanocrystals for Macrophage Targeting: In vitro and Cell Uptake Studies

Authors: Rudra Vaghela, P. K. Kulkarni

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The aim of the present research was to develop oral Amphotericin B (AmB) nanocrystals (Nc) grafted with suitable ligand in order to enhance drug transport across the intestinal epithelial barrier and subsequently, active uptake by macrophages. AmB Nc were prepared by liquid anti-solvent precipitation technique (LAS). Poloxamer 188 was used to stabilize the prepared AmB Nc and grafted with mannose for actively targeting M cells in Peyer’s patches. To prevent shedding of the stabilizer and ligand, N,N’-Dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCC) was used as a cross-linker. The prepared AmB Nc were characterized for particle size, PDI, zeta potential, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and surface morphology using scanning electron microscope (SEM) and evaluated for drug content, in vitro drug release and cell uptake studies using caco-2 cells. The particle size of stabilized AmB Nc grafted with WGA was in the range of 287-417 nm with negative zeta potential between -18 to -25 mV. XRD studies revealed crystalline nature of AmB Nc. SEM studies revealed that ungrafted AmB Nc were irregular in shape with rough surface whereas, grafted AmB Nc were found to be rod-shaped with smooth surface. In vitro drug release of AmB Nc was found to be 86% at the end of one hour. Cellular studies revealed higher invasion and uptake of AmB Nc towards caco-2 cell membrane when compared to ungrafted AmB Nc. Our findings emphasize scope on developing oral delivery system for passively targeting M cells in Peyer’s patches.

Keywords: leishmaniasis, amphotericin b nanocrystals, macrophage targeting, LAS technique

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52 Production of Cellulose Nanowhiskers from Red Algae Waste and Its Application in Polymer Composite Development

Authors: Z. Kassab, A. Aboulkas, A. Barakat, M. El Achaby

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The red algae are available enormously around the world and their exploitation for the production of agar product has become as an important industry in recent years. However, this industrial processing of red algae generated a large quantity of solid fibrous wastes, which constitute a source of a serious environmental problem. For this reason, the exploitation of this solid waste would help to i) produce new value-added materials and ii) to improve waste disposal from environment. In fact, this solid waste can be fully utilized for the production of cellulose microfibers and nanocrystals because it consists of large amount of cellulose component. For this purpose, the red algae waste was chemically treated via alkali, bleaching and acid hydrolysis treatments with controlled conditions, in order to obtain pure cellulose microfibers and cellulose nanocrystals. The raw product and the as-extracted cellulosic materials were successively characterized using serval analysis techniques, including elemental analysis, X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetric analysis, infrared spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy. As an application, the as extracted cellulose nanocrystals were used as nanofillers for the production of polymer-based composite films with improved thermal and tensile properties. In these composite materials, the adhesion properties and the large number of functional groups that are presented in the CNC’s surface and the macromolecular chains of the polymer matrix are exploited to improve the interfacial interactions between the both phases, improving the final properties. Consequently, the high performances of these composite materials can be expected to have potential in packaging material applications.

Keywords: cellulose nanowhiskers, food packaging, polymer composites, red algae waste

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51 The Effect of Chelate to RE Ratio on Upconversion Emissions Property of NaYF4: Yb3+ and Tm3+ Nanocrystals

Authors: M. Kaviani Darani, S. Bastani, M. Ghahari, P. Kardar

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In this paper the NaYF4: Yb3+, Tm3+ nanocrystals were synthesized by hydrothermal method. Different chelating ligand type (citric acid, butanoic acid, and AOT) was selected to investigate the effect of their concentration on upconversion efficiency. Crystal structure and morphology have been well characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis. Photo luminescence were recorded on a spectrophotometer equipped with 980 nm laser diode az excitation source and an integerating sphere. The products with various morphologies range from sphere to cubic, hexagonal,prism and nanorods were prepared at different ratios. The particle size was found to be dependent on the nucleation rate, which, in turn, was affected by type and concentration of ligands. The optimum amount of chelate to RE ratio was obtained 0.75, 1.5, and 1 for Citric Acid, Butanoic Acid and AOT, respectively. Emissions in the UV (1D2-3H6), blue-violet(1D2-3F4), blue (1G4-3H6), red (1G4-3F4), and NIR (1G4-3H5) were observed and were the direct result of subsequent transfers of energy from the Yb3+ ion to the Tm3+ ion.

Keywords: upconversion nanoparticles, NaYF4, lanthanide, hydrothermal

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50 Silver Nanoparticles-Enhanced Luminescence Spectra of Silicon Nanocrystals

Authors: Khamael M. Abualnaja, Lidija Šiller, Benjamin R. Horrocks

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Metal-enhanced luminescence of silicon nano crystals (SiNCs) was determined using two different particle sizes of silver nano particles (AgNPs). SiNCs have been characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray photo electron spectroscopy (XPS). It is found that the SiNCs are crystalline with an average diameter of 65 nm and FCC lattice. AgNPs were synthesized using photochemical reduction of AgNO3 with sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS). The enhanced luminescence of SiNCs by AgNPs was evaluated by confocal Raman microspectroscopy. Enhancement up to ×9 and ×3 times were observed for SiNCs that mixed with AgNPs which have an average particle size of 100 nm and 30 nm, respectively. Silver NPs-enhanced luminescence of SiNCs occurs as a result of the coupling between the excitation laser light and the plasmon bands of AgNPs; thus this intense field at AgNPs surface couples strongly to SiNCs.

Keywords: silver nanoparticles, surface enhanced raman spectroscopy (SERS), silicon nanocrystals, luminescence

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49 CuIn₃Se₅ Colloidal Nanocrystals and Its Ink-Coated Films for Photovoltaics

Authors: M. Ghali, M. Elnimr, G. F. Ali, A. M. Eissa, H. Talaat

Abstract:

CuIn₃Se₅ material is indexed as ordered vacancy compounds having excellent matching properties with CuInGaSe (CIGS) solar absorber layer. For example, the valence band offset of CuIn₃Se₅ with CIGS is nearly 0.3 eV, and the lattice mismatch is less than 1%, besides the absence of discontinuity in their conduction bands. Thus, CuIn₃Se₅ can work as a passivation layer for repelling holes from CIGS/CdS interface and hence to reduce the interface carriers recombination and consequently enhancing the efficiency of CIGS/CdS solar cells. Theoretically, it was reported earlier that an improvement in the efficiency of p-CIGS-based solar cell with a thin ~100 nm of n-CuIn₃Se₅ layer is expected. Recently, a reported experiment demonstrated significant improvement in the efficiency of Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) grown CIGS solar cells from 13.4 to 14.5% via inserting a thin layer of MBE-grown Cu(In,Ga)₃Se₅ layer at the CdS/CIGS interface. It should be mentioned that CuIn₃Se₅ material in either bulk or thin film form, are usually fabricated by high vacuum physical vapor deposition techniques (e.g., three-source co-evaporation, RF sputtering, flash evaporation, and molecular beam epitaxy). In addition, achieving photosensitive films of n-CuIn₃Se₅ material is important for new hybrid organic/inorganic structures, where inorganic photo-absorber layer, with n-type conductivity, can form n–p junction with organic p-type material (e.g., conductive polymers). A detailed study of the physical properties of CuIn₃Se₅ is still necessary for better understanding of device operation and further improvement of solar cells performance. Here, we report on the low-cost synthesis of CuIn₃Se₅ material in nano-scale size, with an average diameter ~10nm, using simple solution-based colloidal chemistry. In contrast to traditionally grown bulk tetragonal CuIn₃Se₅ crystals using high Vacuum-based technology, our colloidal CuIn₃Se₅ nanocrystals show cubic crystal structure with a shape of nanoparticles and band gap ~1.33 eV. Ink-coated thin films prepared from these nanocrystals colloids; display n-type character, 1.26 eV band gap and strong photo-responsive behavior with incident white light. This suggests the potential use of colloidal CuIn₃Se₅ as an active layer in all-solution-processed thin film solar cells.

Keywords: nanocrystals, CuInSe, thin film, optical properties

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48 Viscoelastic Characterization of Gelatin/Cellulose Nanocrystals Aqueous Bionanocomposites

Authors: Liliane Samara Ferreira Leite, Francys Kley Vieira Moreira, Luiz Henrique Capparelli Mattoso

Abstract:

The increasing environmental concern regarding the plastic pollution worldwide has stimulated the development of low-cost biodegradable materials. Proteins are renewable feedstocks that could be used to produce biodegradable plastics. Gelatin, for example, is a cheap film-forming protein extracted from animal skin and connective tissues of Brazilian Livestock residues; thus it has a good potential in low-cost biodegradable plastic production. However, gelatin plastics are limited in terms of mechanical and barrier properties. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are efficient nanofillers that have been used to extend physical properties of polymers. This work was aimed at evaluating the reinforcing efficiency of CNC on gelatin films. Specifically, we have employed the continuous casting as the processing method for obtaining the gelatin/CNC bionanocomposites. This required a first rheological study for assessing the effect of gelatin-CNC and CNC-CNC interactions on the colloidal state of the aqueous bionanocomposite formulations. CNC were isolated from eucalyptus pulp by sulfuric acid hydrolysis (65 wt%) at 55 °C for 30 min. Gelatin was solubilized in ultra-pure water at 85°C for 20 min and then mixed with glycerol at 20 wt.% and CNC at 0.5 wt%, 1.0 wt% and 2.5 wt%. Rotational measurements were performed to determine linear viscosity (η) of bionanocomposite solutions, which increased with increasing CNC content. At 2.5 wt% CNC, η increased by 118% regarding the neat gelatin solution, which was ascribed to percolation CNC network formation. Storage modulus (G’) and loss modulus (G″) further determined by oscillatory tests revealed that a gel-like behavior was dominant in the bionanocomposite solutions (G’ > G’’) over a broad range of temperature (20 – 85 °C), particularly at 2.5 wt% CNC. These results confirm effective interactions in the aqueous gelatin-CNC bionanocomposites that could substantially increase the physical properties of the gelatin plastics. Tensile tests are underway to confirm this hypothesis. The authors would like to thank the Fapesp (process n 2016/03080-3) for support.

Keywords: bionanocomposites, cellulose nanocrystals, gelatin, viscoelastic characterization

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47 Lanthanum Fluoride with Embedded Silicon Nanocrystals: A Novel Material for Future Electronic Devices

Authors: Golam Saklayen, Sheikh Rashel al Ahmed, Ferdous Rahman, Ismail Abu Bakar

Abstract:

Investigation on Lanthanum Fluoride LaF3 layer embedding Silicon Nanocrystals (Si-NCs) fabricated using a novel one-step chemical method has been reported in this presentation. Application of this material has been tested for low-voltage operating non-volatile memory and Schottkey-junction solar cell. Colloidal solution of Si-NCs in hydrofluoric acid (HF) was prepared from meso-porous silicon by ultrasonic vibration (sonication). This solution prevents the Si-NCs to be oxidized. On a silicon (Si) substrate, LaCl3 solution in HCl is allowed to react with the colloidal solution of prepared Si-NCs. Since this solution contains HF, LaCl3 reacts with HF and produces LaF3 crystals that deposits on the silicon substrate as a layer embedding Si-NCs. This a novel single step chemical way of depositing LaF3 insulating layer embedding Si-NCs. The X-Ray diffraction of the deposited layer shows a polycrystalline LaF3 deposition on silicon. A non-stoichiometric LaF3 layer embedding Si-NCs was found by EDX analysis. The presence of Si-NCs was confirmed by SEM. FTIR spectroscopy of the deposited LaF3 powder also confirmed the presence of Si-NCs. The size of Si-NCs was found to be inversely proportional to the ultrasonic power. After depositing proper contacts on the back of Si and LaF3, the devices have been tested as a non-volatile memory and solar cell. A memory window of 525 mV was obtained at a programming and erasing bias of 2V. The LaF3 films with Si NCs showed strong absorption and was also found to decrease optical transmittance than pure LaF3 film of same thickness. The I-V characteristics of the films showed a dependency on the incident light intensity where current changed under various light illumination. Experimental results show a lot of promise for Si-NCs-embedded LaF3 layer to be used as an insulating layer in MIS devices as well as an photoactive material in Schottkey junction solar cells.

Keywords: silicon nanocrystals (Si NCs), LaF3, colloidal solution, Schottky junction solar cell

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46 The Use of Nano-Crystalline Starch in Probiotic Yogurt and Its Effects on the Physicochemical and Biological Properties

Authors: Ali Seirafi

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect and application of starch nanocrystals on physicochemical and microbial properties in the industrial production of probiotic yogurt. In this study, probiotic yoghurt was manufactured by industrial method with the optimization and control of the technological factors affecting the probabilistic biomass, using probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum with commonly used yogurt primers. Afterwards, the effects of different levels of fat (1.3%, 2.5 and 4%), as well as the effects of various perbiotic compounds include starch nanocrystals (0.5%, 1 and 1.5%), galactolegalosaccharide (0.5% 1 and 1.5%) and fructooligosaccharide (0.5%, 1 and 1.5%) were evaluated. In addition, the effect of packaging (polyethylene and glass) was studied, while the effect of pH changes and final acidity were studied at each stage. In this research, all experiments were performed in 3 replications and the results were analyzed in a completely randomized design with SAS version 9.1 software. The results of this study showed that the addition of starch nanocrystal compounds as well as the use of glass packaging had the most positive effects on the survival of Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria and the addition of nano-crystals and the increase in the cooling rate of the product, had the most positive effects on the survival of bacteria Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, prebiotics, probiotic yogurt

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45 Optical Characterization of Erbium-Mixed Silicon Nanocrystals

Authors: Khamael M. Abualnaja, Lidija Šiller, Ben R. Horrocks

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The structural characterization of silicon nano crystals (SiNCs) have been carried out using transmission electron microscope (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). SiNCs are crystalline with an average diameter of 65 nm. Erbium trichloride was added to silicon nano crystals using a simple chemical procedure. Erbium is useful in this context because it has a narrow emission band at ⋍1536 nm which corresponds to a standard optical telecommunication wavelength. The optical properties of SiNCs and erbium-mixed SiNCs samples have been characterized using UV-vis spectroscopy, confocal Raman spectroscopy and photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL). SiNCs and erbium-mixed SiNCs samples exhibit an orange PL emission peak at around 595 nm that arise from radiative recombination of Si. Erbium-mixed SiNCs also shows a weak PL emission peak at ⋍1536 nm that attributed to the intra-4f transition in erbium ions. The intensity of the PL peak of Si in erbium-mixed SiNCs is increased in the intensity up to ×3 as compared to pure SiNCs. It was observed that intensity of 1536 nm peak decreased dramatically in the presence of silicon nano crystals and the PL emission peak of silicon nano crystals is increased. Therefore, the resulted data present that the energy transfer from erbium ions to SiNCs due to the chemical mixing method which used in this work.

Keywords: Silicon Nanocrystals (SiNCs), Erbium Ion, photoluminescence, energy transfer

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44 Fabric Softener Deposition on Cellulose Nanocrystals and Cotton Fibers

Authors: Evdokia K. Oikonomou, Nikolay Christov, Galder Cristobal, Graziana Messina, Giovani Marletta, Laurent Heux, Jean-Francois Berret

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Fabric softeners are aqueous formulations that contain ~10 wt. % double tailed cationic surfactants. Here, a formulation in which 50% surfactant was replaced with low quantities of natural guar polymers was developed. Thanks to the reduced surfactant quantity this product has less environmental impact while the guars presence was found to maintain the product’s performance. The objective of this work is to elucidate the effect of the guar polymers on the softener deposition and the adsorption mechanism on the cotton surface. The surfactants in these formulations are assembled into large distributed (0.1 – 1 µm) vesicles that are stable in the presence of guars and upon dilution. The effect of guars on the vesicles adsorption on cotton was first estimated by using cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) as a stand-in for cotton. The dispersion of CNC in water permits to follow the interaction between the vesicles, guars, and CNC in the bulk. It was found that guars enhance the deposition on CNC and that the vesicles are deposited intactly on the fibers driven by electrostatics. The mechanism of the vesicles/guars adsorption on cellulose fibers was identified by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring. It was found that the guars increase the surfactant deposited quantity, in agreement with the results in the bulk. Also, the structure of the adsorbed surfactant on the fibers' surfaces (vesicle or bilayer) was influenced by the guars presence. Deposition studies on cotton fabrics were also conducted. Attenuated total reflection and scanning electron microscopy were used to study the effect of the polymers on this deposition. Finally, fluorescent microscopy was used to follow the adsorption of surfactant vesicles, labeled with a fluorescent dye, on cotton fabrics in water. It was found that, in the presence or not of polymers, the surfactant vesicles are adsorbed on fiber maintaining their vesicular structure in water (supported vesicular bilayer structure). The guars influence this process. However, upon drying the vesicles are transformed into bilayers and eventually wrap the fibers (supported lipid bilayer structure). This mechanism is proposed for the adsorption of vesicular conditioner on cotton fiber and can be affected by the presence of polymers.

Keywords: cellulose nanocrystals, cotton fibers, fabric softeners, guar polymers, surfactant vesicles

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43 Co-Precipitation Method for the Fabrication of Charge-Transfer Molecular Crystal Nanocapsules

Authors: Rabih Al-Kaysi

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When quasi-stable solutions of 9-methylanthracene (pi-electron donor, 0.0005 M) and 1,2,4,5-Tetracyanobenzene (pi-electron acceptor, 0.0005 M) in aqueous sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS, 0.025 M) were gently mixed, uniform-shaped rectangular charge-transfer nanocrystals precipitated out. These red colored charge-transfer (CT) crystals were composed of a 1:1-mole ratio of acceptor/ donor and are highly insoluble in water/SDS solution. The rectangular crystals morphology is semi hollow with symmetrical twin pockets reminiscent of nanocapsules. For a typical crop of nanocapsules, the dimensions are 21 x 6 x 0.5 microns with an approximate hollow volume of 1.5 x 105 nm3. By varying the concentration of aqueous SDS, mixing duration and incubation temperature, we can control the size and volume of the nanocapsules. The initial number of CT seed nanoparticles, formed by mixing the D and A solutions, determined the number and dimensions of the obtained nanocapsules formed after several hours of incubation under still conditions. Prolonged mixing of the donor and acceptor solutions resulted in plenty of initial seeds hence smaller nanocapsules. Short mixing times yields less seed formation and larger micron-sized capsules. The addition of Doxorubicin in situ with the quasi-stable solutions while mixing leads to the formation of CT nanocapsules with Doxorubicin sealed inside. The Doxorubicin can be liberated from the nanocapsules by cracking them using ultrasonication. This method can be extended to other binary CT complex crystals as well.

Keywords: charge-transfer, nanocapsules, nanocrystals, doxorubicin

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42 Li2o Loss of Lithium Niobate Nanocrystals during High-Energy Ball-Milling

Authors: Laura Kocsor, Laszlo Peter, Laszlo Kovacs, Zsolt Kis

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The aim of our research is to prepare rare-earth-doped lithium niobate (LiNbO3) nanocrystals, having only a few dopant ions in the focal point of an exciting laser beam. These samples will be used to achieve individual addressing of the dopant ions by light beams in a confocal microscope setup. One method for the preparation of nanocrystalline materials is to reduce the particle size by mechanical grinding. High-energy ball-milling was used in several works to produce nano lithium niobate. Previously, it was reported that dry high-energy ball-milling of lithium niobate in a shaker mill results in the partial reduction of the material, which leads to a balanced formation of bipolarons and polarons yielding gray color together with oxygen release and Li2O segregation on the open surfaces. In the present work we focus on preparing LiNbO3 nanocrystals by high-energy ball-milling using a Fritsch Pulverisette 7 planetary mill. Every ball-milling process was carried out in zirconia vial with zirconia balls of different sizes (from 3 mm to 0.1 mm), wet grinding with water, and the grinding time being less than an hour. Gradually decreasing the ball size to 0.1 mm, an average particle size of about 10 nm could be obtained determined by dynamic light scattering and verified by scanning electron microscopy. High-energy ball-milling resulted in sample darkening evidenced by optical absorption spectroscopy measurements indicating that the material underwent partial reduction. The unwanted lithium oxide loss decreases the Li/Nb ratio in the crystal, strongly influencing the spectroscopic properties of lithium niobate. Zirconia contamination was found in ground samples proved by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy measurements; however, it cannot be explained based on the hardness properties of the materials involved in the ball-milling process. It can be understood taking into account the presence of lithium hydroxide formed the segregated lithium oxide and water during the ball-milling process, through chemically induced abrasion. The quantity of the segregated Li2O was measured by coulometric titration. During the wet milling process in the planetary mill, it was found that the lithium oxide loss increases linearly in the early phase of the milling process, then a saturation of the Li2O loss can be seen. This change goes along with the disappearance of the relatively large particles until a relatively narrow size distribution is achieved in accord with the dynamic light scattering measurements. With the 3 mm ball size and 1100 rpm rotation rate, the mean particle size achieved is 100 nm, and the total Li2O loss is about 1.2 wt.% of the original LiNbO3. Further investigations have been done to minimize the Li2O segregation during the ball-milling process. Since the Li2O loss was observed to increase with the growing total surface of the particles, the influence of ball-milling parameters on its quantity has also been studied.

Keywords: high-energy ball-milling, lithium niobate, mechanochemical reaction, nanocrystals

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41 Influence of Laser Excitation on SERS of Silicon Nanocrystals

Authors: Khamael M. Abualnaja, Lidija Šiller, Ben R. Horrocks

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Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) of Silicon nano crystals (SiNCs) were obtained using two different laser excitations: 488 nm and 514.5 nm. Silver nano particles were used as plasmonics metal nano particles due to a robust SERS effect that observed when they mixed with SiNCs. SiNCs have been characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). It is found that the SiNCs are crystalline with an average diameter of 65 nm and FCC lattice. Silver nano particles (AgNPs) of two different sizes were synthesized using photo chemical reduction of AgNO3 with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). The synthesized AgNPs have a polycrystalline structure with an average particle diameter of 100 nm and 30 nm, respectively. A significant enhancement in the SERS intensity was observed for AgNPs100/SiNCs and AgNPs30/SiNCs mixtures increasing up to 9 and 3 times respectively using 488 nm intensity; whereas the intensity of the SERS signal increased up to 7 and 2 times respectively, using 514.5 nm excitation source. The enhancement in SERS intensities occurs as a result of the coupling between the excitation laser light and the plasmon bands of AgNPs; thus this intense field at AgNPs surface couples strongly to SiNCs. The results provide good consensus between the wavelength of the laser excitation source and surface plasmon resonance absorption band of silver nano particles consider to be an important requirement in SERS experiments.

Keywords: silicon nanocrystals (SiNCs), silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), surface enhanced raman spectroscopy (SERS)

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40 Investigating the Minimum RVE Size to Simulate Poly (Propylene carbonate) Composites Reinforced with Cellulose Nanocrystals as a Bio-Nanocomposite

Authors: Hamed Nazeri, Pierre Mertiny, Yongsheng Ma, Kajsa Duke

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The background of the present study is the use of environment-friendly biopolymer and biocomposite materials. Among the recently introduced biopolymers, poly (propylene carbonate) (PPC) has been gaining attention. This study focuses on the size of representative volume elements (RVE) in order to simulate PPC composites reinforced by cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) as a bio-nanocomposite. Before manufacturing nanocomposites, numerical modeling should be implemented to explore and predict mechanical properties, which may be accomplished by creating and studying a suitable RVE. In other studies, modeling of composites with rod shaped fillers has been reported assuming that fillers are unidirectionally aligned. But, modeling of non-aligned filler dispersions is considerably more difficult. This study investigates the minimum RVE size to enable subsequent FEA modeling. The matrix and nano-fillers were modeled using the finite element software ABAQUS, assuming randomly dispersed fillers with a filler mass fraction of 1.5%. To simulate filler dispersion, a Monte Carlo technique was employed. The numerical simulation was implemented to find composite elastic moduli. After commencing the simulation with a single filler particle, the number of particles was increased to assess the minimum number of filler particles that satisfies the requirements for an RVE, providing the composite elastic modulus in a reliable fashion.

Keywords: biocomposite, Monte Carlo method, nanocomposite, representative volume element

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39 Lightweight Sheet Molding Compound Composites by Coating Glass Fiber with Cellulose Nanocrystals

Authors: Amir Asadi, Karim Habib, Robert J. Moon, Kyriaki Kalaitzidou

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There has been considerable interest in cellulose nanomaterials (CN) as polymer and polymer composites reinforcement due to their high specific modulus and strength, low density and toxicity, and accessible hydroxyl side groups that can be readily chemically modified. The focus of this study is making lightweight composites for better fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emission in auto industries with no compromise on mechanical performance using a scalable technique that can be easily integrated in sheet molding compound (SMC) manufacturing lines. Light weighting will be achieved by replacing part of the heavier components, i.e. glass fibers (GF), with a small amount of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) in short GF/epoxy composites made using SMC. CNC will be introduced as coating of the GF rovings prior to their use in the SMC line. The employed coating method is similar to the fiber sizing technique commonly used and thus it can be easily scaled and integrated to industrial SMC lines. This will be an alternative route to the most techniques that involve dispersing CN in polymer matrix, in which the nanomaterials agglomeration limits the capability for scaling up in an industrial production. We have demonstrated that incorporating CNC as a coating on GF surface by immersing the GF in CNC aqueous suspensions, a simple and scalable technique, increases the interfacial shear strength (IFSS) by ~69% compared to the composites produced by uncoated GF, suggesting an enhancement of stress transfer across the GF/matrix interface. As a result of IFSS enhancement, incorporation of 0.17 wt% CNC in the composite results in increases of ~10% in both elastic modulus and tensile strength, and 40 % and 43 % in flexural modulus and strength respectively. We have also determined that dispersing 1.4 and 2 wt% CNC in the epoxy matrix of short GF/epoxy SMC composites by sonication allows removing 10 wt% GF with no penalty on tensile and flexural properties leading to 7.5% lighter composites. Although sonication is a scalable technique, it is not quite as simple and inexpensive as coating the GF by passing through an aqueous suspension of CNC. In this study, the above findings are integrated to 1) investigate the effect of CNC content on mechanical properties by passing the GF rovings through CNC aqueous suspension with various concentrations (0-5%) and 2) determine the optimum ratio of the added CNC to the removed GF to achieve the maximum possible weight reduction with no cost on mechanical performance of the SMC composites. The results of this study are of industrial relevance, providing a path toward producing high volume lightweight and mechanically enhanced SMC composites using cellulose nanomaterials.

Keywords: cellulose nanocrystals, light weight polymer-matrix composites, mechanical properties, sheet molding compound (SMC)

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38 Design of Nanoreinforced Polyacrylamide-Based Hybrid Hydrogels for Bone Tissue Engineering

Authors: Anuj Kumar, Kummara M. Rao, Sung S. Han

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Bone tissue engineering has emerged as a potentially alternative method for localized bone defects or diseases, congenital deformation, and surgical reconstruction. The designing and the fabrication of the ideal scaffold is a great challenge, in restoring of the damaged bone tissues via cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation under three-dimensional (3D) biological micro-/nano-environment. In this case, hydrogel system composed of high hydrophilic 3D polymeric-network that is able to mimic some of the functional physical and chemical properties of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and possibly may provide a suitable 3D micro-/nano-environment (i.e., resemblance of native bone tissues). Thus, this proposed hydrogel system is highly permeable and facilitates the transport of the nutrients and metabolites. However, the use of hydrogels in bone tissue engineering is limited because of their low mechanical properties (toughness and stiffness) that continue to posing challenges in designing and fabrication of tough and stiff hydrogels along with improved bioactive properties. For this purpose, in our lab, polyacrylamide-based hybrid hydrogels were synthesized by involving sodium alginate, cellulose nanocrystals and silica-based glass using one-step free-radical polymerization. The results showed good in vitro apatite-forming ability (biomineralization) and improved mechanical properties (under compression in the form of strength and stiffness in both wet and dry conditions), and in vitro osteoblastic (MC3T3-E1 cells) cytocompatibility. For in vitro cytocompatibility assessment, both qualitative (attachment and spreading of cells using FESEM) and quantitative (cell viability and proliferation using MTT assay) analyses were performed. The obtained hybrid hydrogels may potentially be used in bone tissue engineering applications after establishment of in vivo characterization.

Keywords: bone tissue engineering, cellulose nanocrystals, hydrogels, polyacrylamide, sodium alginate

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37 Micromechanical Compatibility Between Cells and Scaffold Mediates the Efficacy of Regenerative Medicine

Authors: Li Yang, Yang Song, Martin Y. M. Chiang

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Objective: To experimentally substantiate the micromechanical compatibility between cell and scaffold, in the regenerative medicine approach for restoring bone volume, is essential for phenotypic transitions Methods: Through nanotechnology and electrospinning process, nanofibrous scaffolds were fabricated to host dental follicle stem cells (DFSCs). Blends (50:50) of polycaprolactone (PCL) and silk fibroin (SF), mixed with various content of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC, up to 5% in weight), were electrospun to prepare nanofibrous scaffolds with heterogeneous microstructure in terms of fiber size. Colloidal probe atomic force microscopy (AFM) and conventional uniaxial tensile tests measured the scaffold stiffness at the micro-and macro-scale, respectively. The cell elastic modulus and cell-scaffold adhesive interaction (i.e., a chemical function) were examined through single-cell force spectroscopy using AFM. The quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to determine if the mechanotransduction signal (i.e., Yap1, Wwr2, Rac1, MAPK8, Ptk2 and Wnt5a) is upregulated by the scaffold stiffness at the micro-scale (cellular scale). Results: The presence of CNC produces fibrous scaffolds with a bimodal distribution of fiber diameter. This structural heterogeneity, which is CNC-composition dependent, remarkably modulates the mechanical functionality of scaffolds at microscale and macroscale simultaneously, but not the chemical functionality (i.e., only a single material property is varied). In in vitro tests, the osteogenic differentiation and gene expression associated with mechano-sensitive cell markers correlate to the degree of micromechanical compatibility between DFSCs and the scaffold. Conclusion: Cells require compliant scaffolds to encourage energetically favorable interactions for mechanotransduction, which are converted into changes in cellular biochemistry to direct the phenotypic evolution. The micromechanical compatibility is indeed important to the efficacy of regenerative medicine.

Keywords: phenotype transition, scaffold stiffness, electrospinning, cellulose nanocrystals, single-cell force spectroscopy

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