The non-centrosymmetry requirement of sum frequency generation (SFG) vibration spectroscopy allows the detection and quantification of crystalline cellulose in lignocellulose biomass without spectral interferences from hemicelluloses and lignin. This paper shows a correlation between the amount of crystalline cellulose in biomass and the SFG signal intensity. Model biomass samples were prepared by mixing commercially available cellulose, xylan, and lignin to defined concentrations. The SFG signal intensity was found sensitive to a wide range of crystallinity, but varied non-linearly with the mass fraction of cellulose in the samples. This might be due to the matrix effects such as light scattering and absorption by xylan and lignin, as well as the non-linear density dependence of the SFG process itself. Comparison with other techniques such as XRD, FT-Raman, FT-IR and NMR demonstrate that SFG can be a complementary and sensitive tool to assess crystalline cellulose in biomass.
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