Preparation and characterization of transparent PMMA–cellulose-based nanocomposites
Nanocomposites of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and cellulose were made by a solution casting method using acetone as the solvent. The nanofiber networks were prepared using three different types of cellulose nanofibers: (i) nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC), (ii) cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) and (iii) bacterial cellulose from nata de coca (NDC). The loading of cellulose nanofibrils in the PMMA varied between 0.25 and 0.5 wt%. The mechanical properties of the composites were evaluated using a dynamic mechanical thermal analyzer (DMTA). The flexural modulus of the nanocomposites reinforced with NDC at the 0.5 wt% loading level increased 23% compared to that of pure PMMA. The NFC composite also exhibited a slightly increased flexural strength around 60 MPa while PMMA had a flexural strength of 57 MPa. The addition of NDC increased the storage modulus (11%) compared to neat PMMA at room temperature while the storage modulus of PPMA/CNC nanocomposite containing 0.25 and 0.5 wt% cellulose increased about 46% and 260% to that of the pure PMMA at the glass transition temperature, respectively. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) indicated that there was no significant change in thermal stability of the composites. The UV–vis transmittance of the CNF nanocomposites decreased by 9% and 27% with the addition of 0.25 wt% CNC and NDC, respectively. This work is intended to spur research and development activity for application of CNF reinforced PMMA nanocomposites in applications such as: packaging, flexible screens, optically transparent films and light-weight transparent materials for ballistic protection.