23 November 2018
Although a variety of nanoparticles with better-than-bulk material performances can be synthesized, it remains a challenge to scale the extraordinary properties of individual nanoscale units to the macroscopic level for bulk nanostructured materials. Here, we report a general and scalable biosynthesis strategy that involves simultaneous growth of cellulose nanofibrils through microbial fermentation and co-deposition of various kinds of nanoscale building blocks (NBBs) through aerosol feeding on solid culture substrates. We employ this biosynthesis strategy to assemble a wide range of NBBs into cellulose nanofibril-based bulk nanocomposites. In particular, the biosynthesized carbon nanotubes/bacterial cellulose nanocomposites that consist of integrated 3D cellulose nanofibril networks simultaneously achieve an extremely high mechanical strength and electrical conductivity, and thus exhibit outstanding performance as high-strength lightweight electromagnetic interference shielding materials. The biosynthesis approach represents a general and efficient strategy for large-scale production of functional bulk nanocomposites with enhanced performances for practical applications. Industrial-scale production of these bulk nanocomposite materials for practical applications can be expected in the near future.