Chemical Society Seminar: Mark MacLachlan - New Materials from Cellulose Nanocrystals


Maass Chemistry Building Room 10, 801 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 0B8, CA


Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) can be extracted from biomass, including cotton and wood pulp. The resulting CNCs form stable colloidal suspensions in water and also organize into a chiral nematic liquid crystal when concentrated above ~4 wt% in water. This chiral nematic organization is retained in dried films of CNCs, giving films with bright, iridescent colors.[1]

Our group has been active in using CNCs as a template to construct novel chiral nematic mesoporous materials with photonic properties.[2] We have succeeded in preparing silica,[3] organosilica,[4] and polymeric materials[5] through self-assembly or through hard-templating methods.

In this presentation, I will discuss our some of our recent explorations with CNCs, including hydrogels (Fig. 1) and aerogels,[6] tactoids,[7,8] or elastomers with tunable optical properties.

[1] Revol, J.-F.; Godbout, L.; Gray, D. G. J. Pulp Pap. Sci. 1998, 24, 146-149.
[2] Giese, M.; Blusch, L. K.; Khan, M. K.; MacLachlan, M. J. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 2888-2910.
[3] Shopsowitz, K. E.; Qi, H.; Hamad, W. Y.; MacLachlan, M.J. Nature 2010, 468, 422-425.
[4] Shopsowitz, K.E.; Hamad, W.Y.; MacLachlan, M.J. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 867-870.
[5] Khan, M. K.; Bsoul, A.; Walus, K.; Hamad, W. Y.; MacLachlan, M. J. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 4304-4308.
[6] Oechsle, A. L.; Lewis, L.; Hamad, W. Y.; Hatzikiriakos, S. G.; MacLachlan, M. J. Chem. Mater. 2018, 30, 376-385. [7] Wang, P.-X., Hamad, W. Y.; MacLachlan, M. J. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 130, 3418-3423.
[8] Wang, P.-X.; Hamad, W. Y.; MacLachlan, M. J. Chem, in revision.


Mark MacLachlan received his B.Sc. degree in Honours Chemistry (1995) at UBC. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from the University of Toronto (1999), where he worked with Prof. Ian Manners and Prof. Geoffrey Ozin in the areas of inorganic polymers and materials. After completing a 2-year NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship in supramolecular chemistry with Prof. Timothy Swager at M.I.T., he returned to UBC in 2001 to begin his independent career. Mark’s research interests span supramolecular chemistry, macrocycle chemistry, nanomaterials, mesoporous materials, photonic structures, and biopolymers. He received an E. W. R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship in 2012-2014 and holds the Canada Research Chair in Supramolecular Materials.

Contact Information

Theo van de Ven
Theo.vandeven [at]