Electron Microdiffraction Reveals the Nanoscale Twist Geometry of Cellulose Nanocrystals

Crystalline cellulose fibrils, commonly called nanocellulose, are obtained from native cellulosic tissues. They form short cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) or long cellulose nanofibers (CNF). They display outstanding mechanical properties and fascinating intrinsic chirality. The chirality of cellulose crystals provides them with unique optical properties and chiral induction ability. An electron micro-diffraction analysis under cryogenic condition reveals the existence of a continuous twisting of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) in aqueous suspension.

This intrinsic regular twist is altered to discontinuous sharp twists when the CNCs are dried on a flat surface. The present electron-micro-diffraction based analysis at the single nanoparticle level is a significant contribution in establishing quantitative structure-properties relationship.