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    Uniform fibers composed of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) reinforced with progressively increasing contents of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), up to 41 wt% CNCs, have been successfully produced by electrospinning. The morphological, thermal and nanomechanical properties of the composite sub-micron fibers were investigated. The CNCs derived from wood pulp by sulfuric acid hydrolysis were well dispersed in solutions of PMMA and the processing solvent N,N-dimethylformamide prior to fiber formation. Well-formed fibers with controllable diameters were generated reproducibly at all CNC contents investigated including 41 wt%. The orientation of the CNCs along the fiber axis was facilitated by the electrospinning process and observed directly from microscopy examination. Shifts in thermal transitions of PMMA with increasing CNC content suggest hydrogen bonding interactions between CNC hydroxyl groups and carbonyl groups on the PMMA matrix. Nanoscale dynamic mechanical analysis (nano-DMA) was performed using nanoindentation on single fibers perpendicular to the fiber axis. Many of the current challenges associated with single fiber nanoindentation are addressed, such as fiber diameter range and minimum, depth to diameter ratio, and valid depth range under these experimental conditions. Fibers that contained 17 wt% CNCs showed a modest increase of 17% in the storage modulus of PMMA, a high modulus polymer of interest for transparent composite applications.

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    Dong, Hong; Strawhecker, Kenneth E.; Snyder, James A.; Orlicki, Joshua A.; Reiner, Richard S.; Rudie, Alan W. 2012. Cellulose nanocrystals as a reinforcing material for electrospun poly(methyl methacrylate) fibers: formation, properties and nanomechanical characterization. Carbohydrate Polymers. 87: 2488– 2495. DOI: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2011.11.015.


    Cellulose nanocrystals, Nano-DMA, Nanoindentation, Poly(methyl methacrylate) fibers, Electrospinning, Thermal properties

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