Iridescent Cellulose Nanocrystal Films Modified with Hydroxypropyl Cellulose.
AbstractThe introduction of polymers into a chiral nematic cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) matrix allows for the tuning of optical and mechanical properties, enabling the development of responsive photonic materials. In this study, we explored the incorporation of hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) into a CNC film prepared by slow evaporation. In the composite CNC/HPC thin films, the CNCs adopt a chiral nematic structure, which can selectively reflect certain wavelengths of light to yield a colored film. The color could be tuned across the visible spectrum by changing the concentration or molecular weight of the HPC. Importantly, the composite films were more flexible than pure CNC films with up to a ten-fold increase in elasticity and a decrease in stiffness and tensile strength of up to six times and four times, respectively. Surface modification of the films with methacrylate groups increased the hydrophobicity of the films, and therefore, the water stability of these materials was also improved.