With a diameter less than a tenth of a thousandth of that of a human hair, nanofibrillated cellulose is stronger than steel on a microscale. However, at larger scales the compounds of this material become increasingly weaker. Chinese researchers explained that the superior properties of this new material are due to a 3D network of nanofibers produced with biosynthesis methods starting from glucose. On a scale in the order of microns, the new compound has a multi-layered structure.
“It’s similar to a sequence of cobweb layers,” he explained Guan Qingfang, member of the group of scientists. According to the researcher, if subjected to an impact at the speed of 100 kilometers per hour, this structure can instantly absorb and dissipate huge quantities of energy, without undergoing deformation or cracks, revealing itself in this sense superior to ceramic, plastics and alloys aluminum.
The new material could find various applications in the production of cars, aircraft and precision instruments, in particular in the aerospace field, such as the support for optical lenses for the lunar rover which requires lightness, high resistance and stability at extreme temperatures.
Cellulose, the researchers note, has also made the material more economical, ecological and capable of replacing the technopolymers used in various industries.