The angular optical response of cellulose nanocrystal films explained by the distortion of the arrested suspension upon drying.
Physical review materials
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Frka-Petesic, B., Kamita, G., Guidetti, G., & Vignolini, S. (2019). The angular optical response of cellulose nanocrystal films explained by the distortion of the arrested suspension upon drying.. Physical review materials, 3 (4)https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevmaterials.3.045601
Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) are bio-sourced chiral nanorods that can form stable colloidal suspensions able to spontaneously assemble above a critical concentration into a cholesteric liquid crystal, with a cholesteric pitch usually in the micron range. When these suspensions are dried on a substrate, solid films with a pitch of the order of few hundreds of nanometers can be produced, leading to intense reflection in the visible range. However, the resulting cholesteric nanostructure is usually not homogeneous within a sample and comports important variations of the cholesteric domain orientation and pitch, which affect the photonic properties. In this work, we first propose a model accounting for the formation of the photonic structure from the vertical compression of the cholesteric suspension upon solvent evaporation, starting at the onset of the kinetic arrest of the drying suspension and ending when solvent evaporation is complete. From that assumption, various structural features of the films can be derived, such as the variation of the cholesteric pitch with the domain tilt, the orientation distribution density of the final cholesteric domains and the distortion of the helix from the unperturbed cholesteric case. The angular-resolved optical response of such films is then derived, including the iridescence and the generation of higher order reflection bands, and a simulation of the angular optical response is provided, including its tailoring under external magnetic fields. Second, we conducted an experimental investigation of CNC films covering a structural and optical analysis of the films. The macroscopic appearance of the films is discussed and complemented with angular-resolved optical spectroscopy, optical and electron microscopy, and our quantitative analysis shows an excellent agreement with the proposed model. This allows us to access the precise composition and the pitch of the suspension when it transited into a kinetically arrested phase directly from the optical analysis of the film. This work highlights the key role that the anisotropic compression of the kinetically arrested state plays in the formation of CNC films and is relevant to the broader case of structure formation in cast dispersions and colloidal self-assembly upon solvent evaporation.
This work was supported by a BBSRC David Phillips fellowship [BB/K014617/1], the EPSRC grants , [EP/R511675/1], [EP/N016920/1] and [EP/K503757/1], The Isaac Newton Trust Cambridge [1423(g) 76933] and the European Research Council grants [ERC-2014-STG H2020 639088] and [ERC-PoC-2017 790518].
ECH2020 EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL (ERC) (639088)
Isaac Newton Trust (1423(g))
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) ERC (790518)
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/physrevmaterials.3.045601
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/290202