Tuning the Magnetic Alignment of Cellulose Nanocrystals from Perpendicular to Parallel Using Lepidocrocite Nanoparticles

The magnetic alignment of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) and lepidocrocite nanorods (LpN), pristine and in hybrid suspensions has been investigated using contrast-matched small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) under in situ magnetic fields (0 – 6.8 T) and polarized optical microscopy. The pristine CNC (diamagnetic) and pristine LpN (paramagnetic) align perpendicular and parallel to the direction of field, respectively. The alignment of both the nanoparticles in their hybrid suspensions depends on the relative amount of the two components (CNC and LpN) and strength of the applied magnetic field. In the presence of 10 wt% LpN and fields < 1.0 T, the CNC align parallel to the field. In the hybrid containing lower amount of LpN (1 wt%), the ordering of CNC is partially frustrated in all range of magnetic field. At the same time, the LpN shows both perpendicular and parallel orientation, in the presence of CNC. This study highlights that the natural perpendicular ordering of CNC can be switched to parallel by weak magnetic fields and the incorporation of paramagnetic nanoparticle as LpN, as well it gives a method to influence the orientation of LpN.