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2D-Nanocellulose: Piezoelectric Driven By a Hydrogen Bonds Pattern

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According to a report this past week by Nanotech-Now (Lansing, Mich., USA), in the coming years nanocellulose (NC) could attract lot of attention from industrial researchers (market value is estimated to be $530 million worldwide by 2020 in this report). The process of development and functionalization of NC materials is highlighted here as promising because of the now better-known unique optomechanical features and green nature.
However, there is still a niche for applications based on NC electric-response. In this scenario, the results published in scientific reports with the participation of ICN2 researchers, would set up foundations for new strategies intended to drive novel applications based on 2D-NC with a predicted piezoelectric-response ~ pm V-1. This result could rank NC at the level of currently used bulk piezoelectrics like α-quartz and most recent 2D materials like MoSe2 or doped graphene. The first author of this short article is Dr. Yamila García, and the other is ICREA Research Prof. Dr Clivia M. Sotomayor-Torres, Group leader of the ICN2 Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group. The article covers two key questions - the size question and the "atom by atom" question.

Are we still and always too big? It is one of the main limitations to do nanotechnology, as Richard Feynman pointed out in 1959. As a contribution in paving the way to overcome this restriction, it is introduced in a theoretical framework for the investigation of electric field profiles with interatomic resolution, and thus to understand the fundamentals of the electromechanical coupling at the nanoscale. Remarkably, the mean-field descriptor obtained with the methodology described in the manuscript would also complete the latest definition of hydrogen bonds stated by IUPAC since it is the first effective approach in quantifying the electrical nature of such interactions. 

Only an atom by an atom? Understanding of electrical forces managing directional bonds is needed if scientists plan to engineer materials by means of highly selected nanoscale oriented mechanisms. So deepening on the understanding of 2D-NC as a piezoelectric system managed by electroactive and well-distinguishable HB could facilitate new openings for the nanotechnologies community intended to progress on NC applications, i.e. straightforwardly introducing electronic-base sensing and actuating applications. Looking to the future, areas like molecular biology or genetic engineering would be benefited by the new contributions on the understanding of electrical forces within life-essential hydrogen bonds.

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