Read the full article here: Biomacromolecules DOI:10.1021/acs.biomac.0c00330 (2020).
Nanocellulose-based materials and nanocomposites show extraordinary mechanical properties with high stiffness, strength, and toughness. Although the last decade has witnessed great progress in understanding the mechanical properties of these materials, a crucial challenge is to identify pathways to introduce high wet strength, which is a critical parameter for commercial applications. Because of the waterborne fabrication methods, nanocellulose-based materials are prone to swelling by both adsorption of moist air or liquid water. Unfortunately, there is currently no best practice on how to take the swelling into account when reporting mechanical properties at different relative humidity or when measuring the mechanical properties of fully hydrated materials. This limits and in parts fully prevents comparisons between different studies. We review current approaches and propose a best practice for measuring and reporting mechanical properties of wet nanocellulose-based materials, highlighting the importance of swelling and the correlation between mechanical properties and volume expansion.