Nanocelluloses are the building blocks of plants and comprise the whole class of nanofibrillated cellulose and cellulose nanocrystals, with structures similar to uncooked spaghetti and rice, respectively. Their high surface area, thermal stability, non-toxicity and inexpensiveness made them a sustainable material for a range of different applications. However, despite the interesting morphology of conventional nanocelluloses, due to their weak colloidal stability in ionic media, it is very challenging to chemically functionalize their surfaces. We are aiming to develop a special type of amphiphilic nanocellulose, which is electrosterically stable and consists of nanocrystalline cellulose with hydrophobic chains protruding from both ends. These nanocelluloses are expected to form a homogeneous oriented structure through natural self-assembly tendencies of the hydrophilic and hydrophobic components in their architecture. In addition to gaining some skills in nanoparticle synthesis and characterisation, the student will get some experience in working with the confocal–rheometer to determine the assembly and dynamics of nanofibres upon the application of shear. Worldwide there are only very few set-ups available which combine a confocal microscope with a rheometer and this facility is available in Prof Rowan’s laboratory at AIBN.

Supervisors: Nasim Amiralian ( & Jan Lauko (