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McMaster University
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Research Interests

My research aims to design high-performance materials to replace those that are based on non-renewable resources by learning from nature and using biological components. Currently, my bio-component of choice is nanocellulose.  More specifically, this work includes investigating and modifying interfacial properties between nanocomposite components and encompasses a wide range of disciplines including polymer and surface chemistry, nanotribology, and pulp and paper science. This, and other "Green" Chemistry and Chemical Engineering research was highlighted October 26, 2011 in the Globe and Mail and June 30, 2014 in the Chemical & Engineering News.

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Surface Engineering of Sustainable Materials Based on Nanocellulose

Cellulose is particularly promising for use in new materials because it is the most abundant natural substance on earth and has very high mechanical strength, similar to stainless steel and Kevlar. Recently, nanometer-sized particles of cellulose, in the form of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), also known as nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), have gained attention in the media because they will soon be produced industrially at the Domtar demonstration plant in Windsor, Quebec. CNC can be manufactured from wood pulp and used to create novel nanomaterials such as composites, coatings, gels and foams. Future value-added products from CNC will include paints, cosmetics and biomedical devices and a more general goal is to replace existing non-biodegradable plastic composites with CNC materials. Download a printable research overview.

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This research addresses some of the most important unresolved scientific issues regarding the design of new nanocellulose composites (and perhaps nanocomposites in general!), including:

    • Improving the compatibility between composite components
    • Thoroughly (and reproducibly) measuring the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of nanomaterials
    • Evaluating potential toxicity and biodegradability
    • Standardizing nanometrology and manufacturing processes




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