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Renewable Nanoparticles in Superstructured and Multiphase Materials

Friday, October 22, 2021 11:00to12:30
Image of a hand throwing a Rubik's cube. Each smaller cube is colored with colors of nature

We introduce new functions in super-structured assemblies [1] based on cellulose nanofibrils and nanocrystals as well as other renewable nano- and micro-particles, including those based on chitin, tannins and lignins [2]. Related efforts require control of interparticle and adhesive interactions to achieve macroscale and hierarchical assemblies with outstanding strength, morphologies and designs. They can facilitate the creation of biomimetic and advanced materials, uniquely equipped with opto-mechanical and stimuli-responsive behaviors [3]. We discuss the topology of nanonetworks formed from renewable nanoparticles combined with mineral and organic components following a generic fabrication pathway [4]. A vast number of opportunities is further demonstrated from the association of nanocelluloses and nanochitin in the formulation of multiphase systems, including foams and emulsions relevant to foodstuff and structural applications [5]. Our results are expected to expand the development of functional colloids from laboratory-scale towards implementation in nanomanufacturing of bulk materials. Our efforts in these directions need to consider the several challenges that still exist in relation to circularity and resource efficiency. Hence, we expand on the opportunities to reduce water intensity during processing [6] and to accommodate feedstock diversity, to span streams that include residues from biomass processing and agri-food losses and waste [7].


[1] Li et al., Developing fibrillated cellulose as a sustainable technological material, Nature, 590, 47 (2021). DOI:1 0.1038/s41586-020-03167-7

[2] Bai et al., Adsorption and assembly of cellulosic and lignin colloids at oil/water interfaces, Langmuir, 35, 571 (2019). DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b01288

[3] Tardy et al., Exploiting supramolecular interactions from polymeric colloids for strong anisotropic adhesion between solid surfaces, Adv. Mat., 1906886 (2020). DOI: 10.1002/adma.201906886; Tripathi et al., Expanding the upper limits of robustness of cellulose nanocrystal aerogels: outstanding mechanical performance and associated pore compression response of chiral-nematic architectures, J. Mat. Chem. A, 7, 15309 (2019). DOI: 10.1039/c9ta03950c

[4] Mattos et al., Nanofibrillar networks enable universal assembly of superstructured particle constructs, Sci. Adv., 6, eaaz7328 (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz7328; Tardy et al., Deconstruction and reassembly of renewable polymers and biocolloids into next generation structured materials, Chem. Rev. ASAP (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.0c01333

[5] Huan et al., Pickering emulsions via interfacial nanoparticle complexation of oppositely charged nanopolysaccharides, ACS Appl. Mat. & Interfaces, 13, 12581 (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c22560

[6] Ajdary et al., Plant nanomaterials and inspiration from nature: water interactions and hierarchically-structured hydrogels, Adv. Mat., 2001085 (2020). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202001085; Beaumont et al., Unique reactivity of nanoporous cellulosic materials mediated by surface-confined water, Nature Comm, 12, 2513 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22682-3

[7] Otoni et al., The food-materials nexus: next generation bioplastics and advanced materials from agri-food residues, Adv. Mat., ASAP (2021). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202102520


Professor Orlando Rojas is a Canada Excellence Research Chair in University of British Columbia and Director of the Bioproducts Institute. In this latter role, he synergizes a distinguished group of professors and researchers conducting multi- and cross-disciplinary research to create fundamental knowledge and applications, from seed genetics to cutting-edge biorefining technologies, from thermochemical and bio-conversion pathways to novel bio-based products. His research group, Bio-based Colloids and Materials operates between Vancouver (UBC) and Helsinki (Aalto University).
Prof. Rojas received the Anselme Payen Award, established by the American Chemical Society in 1962, the highest recognition in the area of cellulose and renewable materials. He is an elected Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2013), the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (2017) and recipient of the Tappi Nanotechnology Award (2015). He is adjunct professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering of North Carolina State University.
Prof. Rojas is Associate editor of Biomacromolecules and Emeritus Editor of J. Dispersion Science and Technology. He is member of the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Selection Committee and Honorary Chair of the Asia Pacific Young Scientists Association. Prof. Rojas most recent research grants include the prestigious European Research Commission Advanced Grant (ERC-Advanced) and a Horizon H2020 project, among others.
Prof. Rojas is co-lead of the national competence center to advance the Finnish materials bioeconomy, the FinnCERES Flagship, between Aalto University and the Finnish Research Center (VTT). Prof. Rojas is past-chair of Aalto’s Materials Platform and co-PI of the Academy of Finland's Center of Excellence in Molecular Engineering of Biosynthetic Hybrid Materials Research, HYBER.
During his career Prof. Rojas has advised 50 postdoctoral fellows, 61 PhD and 50 MS students. He has also hosted 112 international visiting scholars and professors. With a h-index of 74 and 28000 citations (Google Scholar), he has authored about 460 peer-reviewed papers and a larger number of conference contributions related to the core research, mainly dealing with nanostructures from renewable materials and their utilization in multiphase systems.


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