Preparation of Cellulose Nanocrystal-Reinforced Poly(lactic acid) Nanocomposites through Noncovalent Modification with PLLA-Based Surfactants

Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC)-reinforced poly­(lactic acid) (PLA) nanocomposites were prepared by twin-screw extrusion followed by injection-molding using a masterbatch approach. Noncovalent modification of CNCs was performed with two different poly­(l-lactide) (PLLA)-based surfactants to improve the filler/matrix compatibility. They both have a PLLA block that is expected to improve the compatibility with the PLA matrix and differ by the polar head. It consists of either a poly­(ethylene glycol) (PEG) block (PEG-<i>b</i>-PLLA) or an imidazolium group (Im-PLLA), that is able to interact with the surface of the CNCs. The morphological, structural, thermal, rheological, and mechanical properties of the nanocomposites were investigated. The different modes of interaction of the polar head of the surfactant lead to different properties. However, the global decrease in the molecular weight of PLA, induced by the short PLLA blocks from the surfactants and the possible degradation during melt processing, results in a plasticization effect and impacts the crystallization of the matrix.