How cellulose nanofibrils and cellulose microparticles impact paper strength—A visualization approach

Mathias A. Hobisch, Simon Zabler, Sylvia M. Bardet, Armin Zankel, Tiina Nypelö, Rene Eckhart, Wolfgang Bauer, Stefan Spirk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cellulosic nanomaterials are in the focus of academia and industry to realize light-weight biobased materials with remarkable strength. While the effect is well known, the distribution of these nanomaterials are less explored, particularly for paper sheets. Here, we explore the 3D distribution of micro and nanosized cellulosic particles in paper sheets and correlate their extent of fibrillation to the distribution inside the sheets and subsequently to paper properties. To overcome challenges with contrast between the particles and the matrix, we attached probes on the cellulose nano/microparticles, either by covalent attachment of fluorescent dyes or by physical deposition of cobalt ferrite nanoparticles. The increased contrast enabled visualization of the micro and nanosized particles inside the paper matrix using multiphoton microscopy, X-ray microtomography and SEM-EDX. The results indicate that fibrillary fines enrich at pores and fiber-fiber junctions, thereby increasing the relative bonded area between fibers to enhance paper strength while CNF seems to additionally form an inner 3D network.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117406
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021


  • Cellulose
  • Cellulose nanofibrils
  • Cellulosic fines
  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • Multiphoton microscopy
  • Paper
  • X-ray microtomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science


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