Investigating Adsorption of Cellulose Nanocrystals at Air–Liquid and Solid–Liquid Interfaces in the Presence of Hydrotropes

Geosmin A. Turpin, Andrew Nelson, Stephen A. Holt, Luke W. Giles, Izabela Milogrodzka, Boon M. Teo, Vikram S. Raghuwanshi, Roger G. Horn, Leonie van 't Hag, Rico F. Tabor

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Coating a substrate with anisotropic nanoparticles such as cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) confers some of their desirable physicochemical properties, such as strength, wettability, and barrier properties. The formation of monolayer coatings of CNCs via dip coating is affected by the enrichment of CNCs at both air–liquid and substrate–liquid interfaces. In this work, a surfactant-free method for dip coating CNCs is presented through use of the hydrotrope tetraethylammonium chloride. Hydrotropes demonstrate a different mechanism for facilitating interfacial enrichment, adsorbing to CNCs and rendering them weakly hydrophobic, causing them to adsorb to both solid–liquid and air–liquid interfaces without affecting the surface tension of the system. This new coating mechanism may be more robust as adsorption onto the substrate from the bulk dispersion is less sensitive to the air–liquid interface. Adsorption at the solid–liquid interface showed two distinct CNC layers, with a tightly bound, close-packed CNC layer at the interface, and a loosely associated outer layer. Adsorption of both layers is shown to be fully reversible after washing with ultra pure water, highlighting the potential of hydrotropes for facilitating new coating mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2200791
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022


  • adsorption
  • cellulose nanocrystals
  • coating
  • hydrotropes
  • reflectometry

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