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Unwinding a spiral of cellulose nanocrystals for stimuli-responsive stretchable optics

TitleUnwinding a spiral of cellulose nanocrystals for stimuli-responsive stretchable optics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsKose, O, Tran, A, Lewis, L, Hamad, WY, MacLachlan, MJ
JournalNATURE COMMUNICATIONS
Volume10
Pagination510
Date PublishedJAN 31
Type of ArticleArticle
ISSN2041-1723
Abstract

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) derived from biomass spontaneously organize into a helical arrangement, termed a chiral nematic structure. This structure mimics the organization of chitin found in the exoskeletons of arthropods, where it contributes to their remarkable mechanical strength. Here, we demonstrate a photonic sensory mechanism based on the reversible unwinding of chiral nematic CNCs embedded in an elastomer, leading the materials to display stimuli-responsive stretchable optics. Vivid interference colors appear as the film is stretched and disappear when the elastomer returns to its original shape. This reversible optical effect is caused by a mechanically-induced transition of the CNCs between a chiral nematic and pseudo-nematic arrangement.

DOI10.1038/s41467-019-08351-6