Optimizing cellulose nanocrystal performance via in situ surface modification

Cellulose nanocrystals are plant-based materials that will enable us to shift from a reliance on oil and gas to the bioeconomy by replacing plastics and other chemicals made from oil. Potential products include biodegradable films for food packaging and thickening agents in food products and cosmetics. Nonetheless, their affinity for water limits the range of applications that they can be used in. We propose adding carbohydrates onto their surface to modulate their interaction. Furthermore, we currently cannot track these changes easily, which is crucial for their production at an industrial scale. We propose using a novel technique, based on the visible light emission generated when exciting these materials with UV light, to overcome this problem. This will enable BC Research, a specialist in bringing the production of these materials from the lab to industrial scale, to confidently bring them to the marketplace.

Marcus Johns
Faculty Supervisor: 
Emily Cranston
British Columbia
Partner University: