Rod packing in chiral nematic cellulose nanocrystal dispersions studied by small angle X-ray scattering and laser diffraction
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The packing of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) in the anisotropic chiral nematic phase has been investigated over a wide concentration range by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and laser diffraction. The average separation distance between the CNCs and the average pitch of the chiral nematic phase have been determined over the entire isotropic−anisotropic biphasic region. The average separation distances range from 51 nm, at the onset of the anisotropic phase formation, to 25 nm above 6 vol% (fully liquid crystalline phase) whereas the average pitch varies from ≈15 μm down to ≈2 μm as ϕ increases from 2.5 up to 6.5 vol %. Using the cholesteric order, we determine that the twist angle between neighboring CNCs increases from about 1° up to 4° as ϕ increases from 2.5 up to 6.5 vol %. The dependence of the twisting on the volume fraction was related to the increase in the magnitude of the repulsive interactions between the charged rods as the average separation distance decreases.