Viscoelasticity and microstructure of a hierarchical soft composite based on nano-cellulose and kappa-carrageenan
Journal article, 2013
Soft composites consisting of kappa-carrageenan gel interspersed with nano-cellulose were produced mimicking soft material structures. Microfibrillar cellulose (MFC) with a broad distribution of nano-fibre lengths was used as well as nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC) consisting of 20-nm nano-rods. The nano-fibre concentration, as well as the potassium ion concentration, was varied. The composites were characterized by rheology and light and electron microscopy. The incorporation of NCC into the carrageenan gel led to significant stiffening, and a sharp peak in the storage modulus occurred during gelation. This peak was not observed with MFC, which produced softer composites. An increase in the potassium concentration generally led to a more aggregated carrageenan structure with coarser network strands and increased modulus. By choosing suitable amount of nano-fibres and potassium concentration, soft composites with tailored properties could be produced.