Robert J. Moon - Research Interests

Forest Products Nanotechnology

Cellulose Nanocrystal

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC) are 1D nanoparticles that are being extracted from wood and provide a unique "building block" on which a new biopolymer composites industry can be based. Crystalline cellulose has a greater axial elastic modulus than Kevlar and its mechanical properties are within the range of other reinforcement materials. These particles have high aspect ratio, low density, and a reactive surface of -OH side groups that facilitates grafting chemical species. This surface functionalization allows tailoring of cellulose particle surface chemistry to facilitate self-assembly, regulated dispersion in a wide range of matrix polymers, and control of both the particle-particle and particle-matrix bond strength. Cellulose particles are also environmentally safe (Sources of microcrystalline cellulose are sustainable, biodegradable, carbon neutral, and have low environmental, health and safety risks) and can be processed at industrial scale quantities and at low costs (e.g. wood CNCs are a byproduct of the paper industry, and CNCs are a potential byproduct of any cellulose to biofuels program). These cellulose nanoparticles provide an opportunity to produce green nanocomposites with wide ranging applications for consumer products (packaging), electronics (flexible circuits), energy (flexible solar panels), and defense (body armor).

Our interest in cellulose nanocrystals research covers a wide scope, some specific research areas are:

  • Cellulose nanocrystal characterization
  • Coatings and surface functionalization of cellulose nanocrystals
  • Cellulose nanocrystal composite processing & properties
  • Nanoscale Interface mechanics and relation to macroscopic properties
  • Optical characterization of cellulose nanocrystal films and gels

Program Website:

Recent Publications

  • JE Jakes, CR Frihart, JF Beecher, RJ Moon, and DS Stone, “Experimental method to account for structural compliance in nanoindentation measurements,” J. Mater. Res., 23[4] 1113-1127 (2008).
  • JE Jakes, CR Frihart, JF Beecher, RJ Moon, PJ Resto, ZH Melgarejo, OM Suarez, H Baumagart, AA Elmustafa, D.S. Stone, “Nanoindentation Near the Edge”, J. Mater. Res.,, 24[3] 1016-1031 (2009).
  • RR Lahiji, X Xu, R Reifenberger, A Raman, A Rudie, and RJ Moon, “Atomic Force Microscopy Characterization of Cellulose Nanocrystals,” Langmuir, 26[6]:4480-4488. (2010)
  • S Padalkar, J Capadona, S Rowan, C Weder, L Stanciu, RJ Moon, “Natural Biopolymers: Novel Templates for the Synthesis of Nanostructures”, Langmuir, 26[11]:8497-8502. (2010)
  • MT Postek, A Vladar, J Dagata, N Farkas, B Ming, R Wagner, A Raman, RJ Moon, R Sabo, TH Wegner, and J Beecher, “Development of the metrology and imaging of cellulose nanocrystals,” Meas. Sci. Technol., 22: 024005. (2011).
  • X Wu, R Moon, and A Martini, “Calculation of single chain cellulose elasticity using fully atomistic modeling,” TAPPI Journal, 10: 37-42. (2011).
  • R Moon, A Martini, J Nairn, J Simonsen, and J Youngblood, “Cellulose Nanomaterials Review: Structure, Properties and Nanocomposites,” Chemical Society Reviews, 40: 3941-3994. (2011). DOI:10.1039/C0CS00108B
  • S Padalkar, J Capadona, S Rowan, C Weder, RJ Moon, L Stanciu, “Self-Assembly and Alignment of Semiconductor Nanoparticles on Cellulose Nanocrystals,” J. Mater. Sci., 46: 5672-5679. (2011). DOI:10.1007/s10853-011-5518-4
  • R Wagner, RJ Moon, A Raman, “Uncertainty quantification in nanomechanical measurements using the atomic force microscope,” Nanotechnology, 22 455703 (2011) doi:10.1088/0957-4484/22/45/455703