In x‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), knowledge of elemental depth distributions within the first 10 nm is often essential. However, none of the conventional XPS methods can reliably discern, for example, a thin overlayer from clusters on rough surfaces. Therefore, reliable experimental data on the actual distributions of lignin and extractives on the fibre surfaces is needed, although there are numerous XPS studies on cellulosic fibres and paper. We have studied surface distributions of organic compounds on natural cellulosic fibre materials (cotton, flax and softwood pulps) with XPS, using a novel approach introduced by Tougaard. We were able to model the surface composition of rough fibre surfaces via simple spectral analysis of the O 1s signal. The simple spectral background analyses used show that in the case of cotton and flax, the non‐cellulosic compounds cover the cellulosic fibre surface much more effectively than in softwood pulps, in spite of the smaller amount of non‐cellulosic material present.
- natural fibres
- background analysis