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Influence of charge density and ionic strength on the aggregation process of cellulose nanocrystals in aqueous suspension, as revealed by small-angle neutron scattering

Abstract : Aggregation of rodlike colloidal particles is investigated here through the aggregation process by either increasing ionic strength or decreasing surface charge density of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). The form factor of the nanoparticles is characterized up to the Guinier plateau using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) extended to very small scattering vector Q. Ionic strength, above the threshold of screening charges, brings aggregative conditions that induced fractal organizations for both charged and uncharged CNCs. These two structures display respective fractal dimensions of 2.1 for charged CNCs at high ionic strength and 2.3 for desulfated CNCs over more than a decade of the scattering vector Q irrespective of salinity, revealing a denser structuration for neutral particles. This is discussed in the framework of aggregation of rodlike particles with an aspect ratio higher than 8. Furthermore, dilution of the rod gel led to disentanglement of the network of fractal aggregates with a subsequent macroscopic sedimentation of the suspensions, with a characteristic time that depends upon the ionic strength and surface charge density. It revealed a threshold independent of salt content around 2.5 g/L and the metastable out-of-equilibrium character of CNC suspensions.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 12:31:31 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 3:12:02 PM

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Fanch Cherhal, Fabrice Cousin, Isabelle Capron. Influence of charge density and ionic strength on the aggregation process of cellulose nanocrystals in aqueous suspension, as revealed by small-angle neutron scattering. Langmuir, American Chemical Society, 2015, 31 (20), pp.5596-5602. ⟨10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b00851⟩. ⟨hal-02637859⟩

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