Cellulose fiber/polymer adhesion: Effects of fiber/matrix interfacial chemistry on the micromechanics of the interphase

William T.Y. Tze, Douglas J. Gardner, Carl P. Tripp, Shane C. O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to examine the effects of interfacial chemistry on the interfacial micromechanics of cellulose fiber/polymer composites. Different interfacial chemistries were created by bonding polystyrene (a common amorphous polymer) to fibers whose surfaces contained different functional groups. The chemical compatibility within the interphase was evaluated by matching the solubility parameters (δ) between the polymer and the induced functional groups. The physico-chemical interactions within the interphase were determined using the Lifshitz-van der Waals work of adhesion (WaLw) and the acid-base interaction parameter (Ia-b) based on inverse gas chromatography (IGC). The micromechanical properties of the fiber/polymer interphase were evaluated using a novel micro-Raman tensile test. The results show that the maximum interfacial shear stress, a manifestation of practical adhesion, can be increased by increasing the acid-base interaction (Ia-b) or by reducing the chemical incompatibility (Δδ̄) between the fibers and polymer. A modified diffusion model was employed to predict, with considerable success, the contribution of interfacial chemistry to the practical adhesion of cellulose-based fibers and amorphous polymers. The increased predictability, coupled with the existing knowledge of the bulk properties of both fibers and matrix polymer, should ultimately lead to a better engineering of composite properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1649-1668
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Adhesion Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the USDA/CSREES New England Wood Utilization Research Fund. The authors thank Professors Stephen Shaler and William Unertl of the University of Maine for helpful suggestions. Figure 1 was prepared by Ms. Cuihong Jiang of the Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology, University of Maine. The fiber samples were kindly donated by Acordis Cellulosic Fibers Inc. (Axis, AL, USA). The research reported in this paper was part of W. T. Y. T.’s dissertation work at the University of Maine.


  • Adhesion
  • Cellulose
  • Interphase
  • Inverse gas chromatography
  • Micromechanics
  • Polystyrene
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Surface chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Cellulose fiber/polymer adhesion: Effects of fiber/matrix interfacial chemistry on the micromechanics of the interphase'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this