Cellulose-hemicellulose interaction in wood secondary cell-wall

N Zhang and S Li and LM Xiong and Y Hong and YP Chen, MODELLING AND SIMULATION IN MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING, 23, 085010 (2015).

DOI: 10.1088/0965-0393/23/8/085010

The wood cell wall features a tough and relatively rigid fiber reinforced composite structure. It acts as a pressure vessel, offering protection against mechanical stress. Cellulose microfibrils, hemicellulose and amorphous lignin are the three major components of wood. The structure of secondary cell wall could be imagined as the same as reinforced concrete, in which cellulose microfibrils acts as reinforcing steel bar and hemicellulose-lignin matrices act as the concrete. Therefore, the interface between cellulose and hemicellulose/lignin plays a significant role in determine the mechanical behavior of wood secondary cell wall. To this end, we present a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation study attempting to quantify the strength of the interface between cellulose microfibrils and hemicellulose. Since hemicellulose binds with adjacent cellulose microfibrils in various patterns, the atomistic models of hemicellulose- cellulose composites with three typical binding modes, i.e. bridge, loop and random binding modes are constructed. The effect of the shape of hemicellulose chain on the strength of hemicellulose-cellulose composites under shear loadings is investigated. The contact area as well as hydrogen bonds between cellulose and hemicellulose, together with the covalent bonds in backbone of hemicellulose chain are found to be the controlling parameters which determine the strength of the interfaces in the composite system. For the bridge binding model, the effect of shear loading direction on the strength of the cellulose material is also studied. The obtained results suggest that the shear strength of wood-inspired engineering composites can be optimized through maximizing the formations of the contributing hydrogen bonds between cellulose and hemicellulose.

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