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Open AccessArticle

The Middle Lamella of Plant Fibers Used as Composite Reinforcement: Investigation by Atomic Force Microscopy

1
IRDL, Université de Bretagne Sud, UMR CNRS 6027, 56321 Lorient, France
2
LMGC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, 34095 Montpellier, France
3
INRAE, UR1268 BIA Biopolymères Interactions Assemblages, 44316 Nantes, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Pietro Russo and Fabrizio Sarasini
Molecules 2020, 25(3), 632; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25030632
Received: 20 December 2019 / Revised: 27 January 2020 / Accepted: 29 January 2020 / Published: 1 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Natural Fiber Composites and Their Interfacial Adhesion)
Today, plant fibers are considered as an important new renewable resource that can compete with some synthetic fibers, such as glass, in fiber-reinforced composites. In previous works, it was noted that the pectin-enriched middle lamella (ML) is a weak point in the fiber bundles for plant fiber-reinforced composites. ML is strongly bonded to the primary walls of the cells to form a complex layer called the compound middle lamella (CML). In a composite, cracks preferentially propagate along and through this layer when a mechanical loading is applied. In this work, middle lamellae of several plant fibers of different origin (flax, hemp, jute, kenaf, nettle, and date palm leaf sheath), among the most used for composite reinforcement, are investigated by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The peak-force quantitative nanomechanical property mapping (PF-QNM) mode is used in order to estimate the indentation modulus of this layer. AFM PF-QNM confirmed its potential and suitability to mechanically characterize and compare the stiffness of small areas at the micro and nanoscale level, such as plant cell walls and middle lamellae. Our results suggest that the mean indentation modulus of ML is in the range from 6 GPa (date palm leaf sheath) to 16 GPa (hemp), depending on the plant considered. Moreover, local cell-wall layer architectures were finely evidenced and described. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocomposite; plant fibers; middle lamella; AFM PF-QNM; nanomechanical characterization biocomposite; plant fibers; middle lamella; AFM PF-QNM; nanomechanical characterization
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MDPI and ACS Style

Melelli, A.; Arnould, O.; Beaugrand, J.; Bourmaud, A. The Middle Lamella of Plant Fibers Used as Composite Reinforcement: Investigation by Atomic Force Microscopy. Molecules 2020, 25, 632.

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