Understanding Cellulose Structure by Nonlinear Vibrational Spectroscopy

Microcrystalline cellulose white powder on black background

Prof. Bin Yang is visiting Aalto University from Washington State University's Department of Biological Systems Engineering and the Bioproduct, Sciences & Engineering Laboratory. 

Come and find out more about Prof. Yang, who is open for new collaborations with Aalto researchers.

 

Understanding Cellulose Structure by Nonlinear Vibrational Spectroscopy

A combination of Total Internal Reflection Sum Frequency Generation Vibrational Spectroscopy (TIR-SFG-VS) and conventional SFG-VS together allow probing and understanding the molecular structures at the surface and in the crystalline core of cellulose, as well as the correlation between structural motifs and biomass recalcitrance. From the recorded SFG spectra in the C-H and O-H regions, we describe for the first time that the surface layers of Iβ cellulose feature distinct structures and structural motifs as compared to their analogues in the crystalline core. Our derived picture thus challenges the traditional understanding of cellulosic materials, which neglects the differences between its structural motifs at the surface and in the core. Furthermore, this work describes the effect of structure on cellulose reactivity and decomposition. To this end, the implementation of aqueous thermotreatment of cellulose using a heated fluid testbed with dynamic TIR-SFG-VS allows probing the thermally-induced structural changes of Avicel and cellulose Iβ throughout heating and cooling cycles. Naturally, the observed recrystallization into a new crystalline structure in the process of cooling could strongly affect the recalcitrance of cellulose. This is important from a practical point of view, whereby novel insights on the effectiveness of biomass pretreatment may arise from the improved understanding that is afforded by our data.

 

 

More information about Prof. Yang:

Dr. Bin Yang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering and the Bioproduct, Sciences & Engineering Laboratory at Washington State University, USA. He held the Fulbright-Aalto University Chair in Biological Systems Engineering (2019-2020). He is a recipient of the DARPA Young Faculty Award of 2011. He has dedicated most of his career to the development of renewable energy technologies with particular emphasis on the production of biofuels and chemicals from cellulosic biomass feedstocks and other sustainable resources.  His major research interests include understanding the fundamental mechanism of bioprocessing technologies for the advanced biofuels, advancing cutting-edge technologies, and facilitating the commercialization process as well as improving our knowledge of emerging technologies to meet near and long-term needs worldwide. His current research focuses on pretreatment, enzymatic hydrolysis, and conversion technologies that accelerate the commercial application of biomass processing to cellulosic and lignin fuels and biobased products. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters and has five patents. He also serves as an advisory editor board member for leading biorefinery journals. Yang’s research has been supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Sun Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Seattle-based Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation.

 

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