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Adhesion Force Mapping of Raw and Treated Flax Fibres Using AFM Force-Volume

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Over the last few years, intensive research has been devoted to the exploitation of vegetal fibres in composite reinforcements. The mechanical properties of the natural fibre reinforced composite materials are largely dependant on the adhesion between the fibre and the polymer matrix. To improve the interfacial adhesion, raw flax fibres were chemically modified using an alkali and an eco-friendly enzymatic treatment. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to probe the surface properties of the raw, alkali and enzyme treated flax fibres. First, topography images of the treated flax fibres, as investigated by AFM-Tapping mode, reveal the removal of pectin polysaccharides from the primary cell wall and allow for the visualisation of oriented cellulose microfibrils with a typical diameter of 25–30 nm. The removal of pectin polysaccharide was also confirmed by Infrared spectroscopy analysis. Secondly, the lateral distribution of local adhesion properties of the fibres, as investigated using the AFM Force-Volume (FV) imaging mode, showed a heterogeneous distribution of adhesion forces on raw flax fibres in comparison with treated ones. The variation in adhesion forces was explained in terms of local changes in the hydrophilic properties of the raw flax fibre, due to the presence of some amorphous hydrophilic pectins. Furthermore, the difference in adhesion correlated well with the principal effect of the treatments which was mainly to remove pectin materials on the primary cell wall of the fibre.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2009

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  • Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) typically covers atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM, or SNOM) and related technologies. Since its invention in early 1980s, SPM has now been regarded as one of the major driving forces for the rapid development of nanoscience and nanotechnology, and the tool of choice in many areas of research. Journal of Scanning Probe Microscopy (JSPM) provides a forum for rapid dissemination of important developments in SPM technology. JSPM offers scientists, engineers and developers timely, peer-reviewed research on SPM science and technology of the highest quality. JSPM publishes original rapid communications, full research papers and timely state-of-the-art reviews (with author's photo and biography) encompassing the fundamental and applied research on SPM in all fields of science, engineering, and medicine.
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