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Water-repellent Cellulose Fiber Networks With Multifunctional Properties.

I. Bayer, D. Fragouli, A. Attanasio, B. Sorce, G. Bertoni, R. Brescia, R. Di Corato, T. Pellegrino, M. Kalyva, S. Sabella, P. Pompa, R. Cingolani, A. Athanassiou
Published 2011 · Materials Science, Medicine

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We demonstrate a simple but highly efficient technique to introduce multifunctional properties to cellulose fiber networks by wetting them with ethyl-cyanoacrylate monomer solutions containing various suspended organic submicrometer particles or inorganic nanoparticles. Solutions can be applied on cellulosic surfaces by simple solution casting techniques or by dip coating, both being suitable for large area applications. Immediately after solvent evaporation, ethyl-cyanoacrylate starts cross-linking around cellulose fibers under ambient conditions because of naturally occurring surface hydroxyl groups and adsorbed moisture, encapsulating them with a hydrophobic polymer shell. Furthermore, by dispersing various functional particles in the monomer solutions, hydrophobic ethyl-cyanoacrylate nanocomposites with desired functionalities can be formed around the cellulose fibers. To exhibit the versatility of the method, cellulose sheets were functionalized with different ethyl-cyanoacrylate nanocomposite shells comprising submicrometer wax or polytetrafluoroethylene particles for superhydophobicity, MnFe(2)O(4) nanoparticles for magnetic activity, CdSe/ZnS quantum dots for light emission, and silver nanoparticles for antimicrobial activity. Morphological and functional properties of each system have been studied by scanning and transmission electron microscopy, detailed contact angle measurements, light emission spectra and E. coli bacterial growth measurements. A plethora of potential applications can be envisioned for this technique, such as food and industrial packaging, document protection, catalytic cellulosic membranes, textronic (electrofunctional textiles), electromagnetic devices, authentication of valuable documents, and antimicrobial wound healing products to name a few.
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