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Robert J. Moon

Robert J. Moon
Materials Research Engineer
Forest Biopolymer Science and Engineering
Renewable Bioproducts Institute at Georgia Tech
500 10th St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30332-0620
United States
Current Research

Dr. Moon is an internationally recognized researcher in cellulose nanomaterials (CN). He is an expert in processing-structure-property relationships as they apply in various aspects of CN research, such as, nanocomposites, hybrid composites, recyclable solar cells, multi-scale modeling, characterization, etc.. His research program on nanoscale science and engineering of CNs are highly collaborative with Purdue University and Georgia Institute of Technology (GT), where he holds Adjunct Professor appointments in both the School of Materials Engineering (at Purdue University), and in the School of Materials Science and Engineering (at GT). Dr. Moon a member of and is currently stationed at the Renewable Bioproducts Institute at GT.

Dr. Moon works to develop cellulose nanomaterials (CN) pre-structures (e.g. films, continuous fibers, spheres, etc.) combined with targeted CN surface treatments to produce industrially relevant CN composites with improved performance (thermo-mechanical properties, etc) and new functionality/capabilities (e.g., antimicrobial, current conduction, etc.). Resent work has been in the areas of new cement systems, flexible electronics, and functional fillers in various polymer systems.

Past Research

Improved Fracture Toughness of Ceramics by Structural Design: 1997-2005

Ceramic materials are increasingly being used in applications with extreme environments (e.g., wear, high temperatures, etc.), but they are brittle, cracking easily. There is a need to improve their durability. During his PhD and Post Doctorial studies, the Dr. Moon completed cutting-edge research in knowledge discovery on making ceramics more difficult to break via ground breaking investigations into how cracks grow. Through design of ceramic composites, the Dr. Moon focused on three key mechanisms for impeding crack growth; weak interlayers, residual stress, and graded layers (e.g., change in composition vs position). This work resulted in 17 publications.


Knowledge Synthesis and Assessment of Cellulose Nanomaterials: 2010-2018

Dr. Moon strives to digest down the culmination of many studies and complex ideas regarding Cellulose nanomaterials (CN) into basic constructs, describe these in simple relevant terms, maintaining content consistency and integrity, and writing in a style that engages a wide spectrum of readers from various disciplines & level of expertise who are reading to be introduced to CNs or gain some new insights about the key concepts of these materials. Dr. Moon has co-lead three key publications in this area.

  • Cellulose Nanomaterials Review: Structure, Properties and Nanocomposites. R Moon, A Martini, J Nairn, J Simonsen, and J Youngblood. . Chemical Society Reviews 40:3941-3994 (2011).
  • Production and Applications of Cellulose Nanomaterials. Ed. MT Postek, RJ Moon, A Rudie, M Bilodeau, TAPPI Press. (June 2013).
  • Current characterization methods for cellulose nanomaterials.  EJ Foster, RJ Moon, U Agarwal, MJ Bortner, J Bras, S Camarero-Espinosa, KJ Chan, MJD Clift, ED Cranston, S Eichhorn, D Fox, W Hamad, L Heux, B Jean, M Korey, W Nieh, KJ Ong, MS Reid, S Renneckar, R Roberts, JA Shatkin, J Simonsen, K Stinson-Bagby, N Wanasekara, J Youngblood. . Chemical Society Reviews 47:2609-2679 (2018).

How Stiff and Strong are Cellulose Nanomaterial: 2007-2018

Cellulose nanomaterials (CNs) have big gaps and reliability issues in their reported properties, a consequence of their extremely small size, and the ordered bundling of cellulose chains along the CN length, which results in large differences in properties depending on the measurement direction (e.g. property anisotropy). Dr. Moon used Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and atomistic modeling to assess properties of nanoscale sized particles and elucidate the mechanisms giving rise to uncertainties. This work provided the first experimental measurement of stiffness in the transverse direction of CNs. This work resulted in 11 publications.

Research Interest

•Processing-Structure-Property Relationships

•Hierarchical Structure Effects on Properties

•Fracture and Wear of Materials

•Cellulose Nanomaterials: Composite Processing, Characterization, and Modeling

•Cellulose Nanomaterials: for cements, flexible electronics, and functional fillers in polymers

•Sustainable, Biodegradable, Carbon Neutral Materials

  • Purdue University, Ph.D., Materials Engineering, 2000
  • Purdue University, M.S., Metallurgical Engineering, 1996
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S., Metallurgical Engineering, 1994
Professional Experience
  • Adjunct Professor-, Materials Science & Engineering,  Georgia Institute of Technology,  2014 - Current
  • Adjunct Professor-, Materials Engineering,  Purdue University,  2007 - Current
  • Visiting Scientist,  University of New South Wales, Australia,  2005 - 2005
  • ARC Postdoctoral Fellow,  University of New South Wales, Australia,  2002 - 2005
  • Visiting Scientist,  Kyoto Institute of Technology, Japan,  2002 - 2003
  • Postdoctoral Researcher,  University of New South Wales, Australia,  2000 - 2001
Professional Organizations
  • Chair,  TAPPI NanoDivision,  2014 - Current
    Dr. Moon provides the direction, vision, and sets the goals of the division, and plays a central role in directing/shaping the content of the NANO conference. The NANO conference is the NanoDivision’s annual conference “The International Conference in Nanotechnology of Renewable Materials”, which is the preeminent international technical conference on the production, research, development, and application of cellulose nanomaterials. Under Dr. Moon’s leadership, the NanoDivision (initiated in 2011) has grown in membership, become self-sustaining, expanded beyond the pulp and paper disciplines and industries, expanded informational outreach, and expanded the content and grew attendance of the annual NANO conference. Dr. Moon led the development of a new organizational structure consisting of a leadership team and 5 committees (e.g., Producers, End-Users, Research, Student, and Webinar) that execute specific functions of the NanoDivision, its outreach and the organization and plan
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Rapid Production of High Strength and Translucent Cellulose Nanofibril Sheets

Year: 2020
Conventional polymer processing equipment and food grade processing aids were used to continuously extrude high strength sheets of cellulose nanofibrils.

Cellulose Nanocrystals: Novel Templates for the Synthesis of Nanostructures

Year: 2010
Harvesting the properties of widely available natural biopolymers for the design of novel systems in nanobiotechnology has been largely ignored in favor of other biological molecules, such as proteins, viruses, or DNA. A joint research effort between the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and the Purd...

Cellulose Nanocrystals

Year: 2011
Cellulose nanocrystals are ultra-small rod-like reinforcement material that can be extracted from trees, plants and some sea animals. This new technology has potential benefit to a variety of cellulose based industries such as paper, packaging, textiles, etc. and has potential applications for senso...

New Process Fabricates Efficient Reclyclable Solar Cells Using Natural Substrates

Year: 2013
Solar cells fabricated on optically transparent cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) films reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7 percent, an unprecedented figure for cells on substrates derived from renewable raw materials. Additionally, these solar cells can be easily separated and recycled into their ...

Ceramic-Like Thermal Expansion Obtained from Cellulose Nanocrystal Films

Year: 2013
One of the unique properties of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are their low dimensional change with changes in temperature. Understanding the role and mechanism associated with thermal expansion within CNCs and CNC composites is important to a variety of fields. Forest Service researchers developed a...

Removing Organic Compounds from Water with Reusable Nanofiber Films

Year: 2013
Researchers produced films for water decontamination using cellulose nanofibers as a matrix material for the suspension of photocatalytic nano particles.

Scale-up of cellulose nano material production

Year: 2010
There is considerable research internationally on cellulose nano-materials as reinforcement fibers for high strength composites. A persistent problem has been unavailability of cellulose nano-crystals (CNC) and nano-fibrillated cellulose (NFC), the raw material needed for this research. FPL collabor...