Water intake of cellulose materials monitored by positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy

Laura Resch*, Anna Karner, Wolfgang Sprengel, Roland Würschum, Robert Schennach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, for the first time, the experimental technique of positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy (PALS) has been applied to monitor in situ the microstructural changes of cellulose-based materials, i.e. paper, during water intake. For three different cellulose samples, bleached fine paper without filler, Kraft paper without filler, and a viscose fiber sheet, the mean positron lifetime Δ τ mean showed a strong increase with time in humid atmosphere, but exhibiting different trends depending on the type of sample. For all the cellulose samples investigated, the mean positron lifetime Δ τ mean shows an initial strong increase simultaneously occurring (t<10 h) to the mass increase of the samples due to water intake. Interestingly, the variations of Δ τ mean of the viscose fiber sheet and the Kraft paper sample both show a second increase on longer timescales (t>60 h in humid atmosphere) during which the mass increase of these samples has already been saturated. The results of this study show that by the means of PALS, water transport in paper can be reliably followed over a long timespan and it is even possible to distinguish between different types of cellulose materials. The second stage increase of the mean positron lifetime after long times in humid atmosphere for the Kraft paper sample and the pure viscose sheets even suggest that not only water intake itself can be monitored but also further atomistic processes in the material are accessible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357–1363
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Cellulose
  • Positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy
  • Water transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Polymers and Plastics

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science


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