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Dr. Emily Cranston

Associate Professor

Department of Chemical Engineering

sustainable nanocomposites; surface forces and interfacial engineering; biopolymers and thin films (primarily focused on nanocellulose materials)
Areas of Specialization:
Research Clusters:


Research Interests

My research aims to design high-performance materials to replace those that are based on non-renewable resources by learning from nature and using biological components. Currently, my bio-component of choice is nanocellulose. More specifically, this work includes investigating and modifying interfacial properties between nanocomposite components and encompasses a wide range of disciplines including polymer and surface chemistry, nanotribology, and pulp and paper science.

Surface Engineering of Sustainable Materials Based on Nanocellulose

Cellulose is particularly promising for use in new materials because it is the most abundant natural substance on earth and has very high mechanical strength, similar to stainless steel and Kevlar. Recently, nanometer-sized particles of cellulose, in the form of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs or NCC), have gained attention in the media because they are now being produced industrially in Canada and the US. CNCs can be manufactured from wood pulp (or other natural cellulose sources) and are being used to create novel nanomaterials such as composites, coatings, adhesives, gels and foams. Future value-added products from CNCs will include paints, cosmetics and biomedical devices and a more general goal is to replace existing non-biodegradable plastic materials with CNC-based composites

This research addresses some of the most important unresolved scientific issues regarding the design of new nanocellulose composites (and perhaps nanocomposites in general!), including:

  • Improving the compatibility between composite components
  • Thoroughly (and reproducibly) measuring the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of nanomaterials
  • Evaluating potential toxicity and biodegradability
  • Standardizing nanometrology and manufacturing processes






  • B.Sc. Chemistry with Bio-Organic Option, McGill University (2001)
  • Ph.D. Materials Chemistry, McGill University (2008)
  • Post-Doctoral Associate, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden (2008-2010)



MS Reid, M Villalobos, ED Cranston

Benchmarking cellulose nanocrystals: from the laboratory to industrial production

Langmuir 33 (7), 1583-1598

KJ De France, T Hoare, ED Cranston

Review of Hydrogels and Aerogels Containing Nanocellulose

Chemistry of Materials

Z Hu, HS Marway, H Kasem, R Pelton, ED Cranston

Dried and redispersible cellulose nanocrystal Pickering emulsions

ACS Macro Letters 5 (2), 185-189

Urooj Gill, Travis Sutherland, Sebastian Himbert, Yujie Zhu, Maikel C. Rheinstädter, Emily D. Cranston, Jose M. Moran-Mirabal

Beyond buckling: humidity-independent measurement of the mechanical properties of green nanobiocomposite films

Nanoscale, 2017,9, 7781-7790

SA Kedzior, HS Marway, ED Cranston

Tailoring Cellulose Nanocrystal and Surfactant Behavior in Miniemulsion Polymerization

Macromolecules 50 (7), 2645-2655


  • K. J. De France, K. G. Yager, K. J. W. Chan, B. Corbett, E. D. Cranston, and T. Hoare, “Injectable Anisotropic Nanocomposite Hydrogels Direct in Situ Growth and Alignment of Myotubes,” Nano Letters, Sep. 2017.
  • S. A. Kedzior, M. A. Dubé, and E. D. Cranston, “Cellulose Nanocrystals and Methyl Cellulose as Costabilizers for Nanocomposite Latexes with Double Morphology,” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Oct. 2017.
  • C. Martin et al., “Structural Variations in Hybrid All-Nanoparticle Gibbsite Nanoplatelet/Cellulose Nanocrystal Multilayered Films,” Langmuir, vol. 33, no. 32, pp. 7896–7907, Aug. 2017.
  • M. S. Reid, S. A. Kedzior, M. Villalobos, and E. D. Cranston, “Effect of Ionic Strength and Surface Charge Density on the Kinetics of Cellulose Nanocrystal Thin Film Swelling,” Langmuir, vol. 33, no. 30, pp. 7403–7411, Jul. 2017.
  • Z. Hu, R. M. Berry, R. Pelton, and E. D. Cranston, “One-Pot Water-Based Hydrophobic Surface Modification of Cellulose Nanocrystals Using Plant Polyphenols,” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 5018–5026, Apr. 2017.
  • Z. Dastjerdi, E. D. Cranston, and M. A. Dubé, “Synthesis of Poly(n -butyl acrylate/methyl methacrylate)/CNC Latex Nanocomposites via In Situ Emulsion Polymerization,” Macromolecular Reaction Engineering, p. 1700013, Apr. 2017.
  • S. A. Kedzior, H. S. Marway, and E. D. Cranston, “Tailoring Cellulose Nanocrystal and Surfactant Behavior in Miniemulsion Polymerization,” Macromolecules, vol. 50, no. 7, pp. 2645–2655, Mar. 2017.
  • M. S. Reid, M. Villalobos, and E. D. Cranston, “The role of hydrogen bonding in non-ionic polymer adsorption to cellulose nanocrystals and silica colloids,” Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science, vol. 29, pp. 76–82, May 2017.
  • T. Abitbol et al., “Hybrid fluorescent nanoparticles from quantum dots coupled to cellulose nanocrystals,” Cellulose, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 1287–1293, Jan. 2017.
  • F. L. Hatton, S. A. Kedzior, E. D. Cranston, and A. Carlmark, “Grafting-from cellulose nanocrystals via photoinduced Cu-mediated reversible-deactivation radical polymerization,” Carbohydrate Polymers, vol. 157, pp. 1033–1040, Feb. 2017.

Top 10 Cited Articles

  • ED Cranston, DG Gray, "Morphological and optical characterization of polyelectrolyte multilayers incorporating nanocrystalline cellulose", Langmuir 33 (7), 1583-1598
  • M. Hasani, E. D. Cranston, G. Westman, and D. G. Gray, “Cationic surface functionalization of cellulose nanocrystals,” Soft Matter, vol. 4, no. 11, pp. 2238–2244, 2008.
  • E. D. Cranston and D. G. Gray, “Formation of cellulose-based electrostatic layer-by-layer films in a magnetic field,” Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 319–321, Jan. 2006.
  • E. D. Cranston and D. G. Gray, “Birefringence in spin-coated films containing cellulose nanocrystals,” Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, vol. 325, no. 1–2, pp. 44–51, Jul. 2008.
  • X. Yang and E. D. Cranston, “Chemically Cross-Linked Cellulose Nanocrystal Aerogels with Shape Recovery and Superabsorbent Properties,” Chemistry of Materials, vol. 26, no. 20, pp. 6016–6025, Oct. 2014.
  • X. Yang, E. Bakaic, T. Hoare, and E. D. Cranston, “Injectable Polysaccharide Hydrogels Reinforced with Cellulose Nanocrystals: Morphology, Rheology, Degradation, and Cytotoxicity,” Biomacromolecules, vol. 14, no. 12, pp. 4447–4455, Dec. 2013.
  • K. H. M. Kan, J. Li, K. Wijesekera, and E. D. Cranston, “Polymer-Grafted Cellulose Nanocrystals as pH-Responsive Reversible Flocculants,” Biomacromolecules, vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 3130–3139, Sep. 2013.
  • Z. Hu, S. Ballinger, R. Pelton, and E. D. Cranston, “Surfactant-enhanced cellulose nanocrystal Pickering emulsions,” Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, vol. 439, pp. 139–148, Feb. 2015.
  • O. Werzer, E. D. Cranston, G. G. Warr, R. Atkin, and M. W. Rutland, “Ionic liquid nanotribology: mica–silica interactions in ethylammonium nitrate,” Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., vol. 14, no. 15, pp. 5147–5152, 2012.
  • R. Á. Asencio, E. D. Cranston, R. Atkin, and M. W. Rutland, “Ionic Liquid Nanotribology: Stiction Suppression and Surface Induced Shear Thinning,” Langmuir, vol. 28, no. 26, pp. 9967–9976, Jul. 2012.
  • X. Yang, K. Shi, I. Zhitomirsky, and E. D. Cranston, “Cellulose Nanocrystal Aerogels as Universal 3D Lightweight Substrates for Supercapacitor Materials,” Advanced Materials, vol. 27, no. 40, pp. 6104–6109, Sep. 2015.

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