Novel insight into the intricate shape of flax fibre lumen

Emmanuelle Richely, Sylvie Durand, Alessia Melelli, Alexander Kao, Anthony Magueresse, Hom Dhakal, Tatyana Gorshkova, Franck Callebert, Alain Bourmaud, Johnny Beaugrand, Sofiane Guessasma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Plant fibres and especially flax can be distinguished from most synthetic fibres by their intricate shape and intrinsic porosity called lumen, which is usually assumed to be tubular. However, the real shape appears more complex and thus might induce stress concentrations influencing the fibre performance. This study proposes a novel representation of flax fibre lumen and its variations along the fibre, an interpretation of its origin and effect on flax fibre tensile properties. This investigation was conducted at the crossroads of complementary characterization techniques: optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high-resolution X-ray microtomography (µCT) and mechanical tests at the cell-wall and fibre scale by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in Peak-Force Quantitative NanoMechanical property mapping (PF-QNM) mode and micromechanical tensile testing. Converging results highlight the difficulty of drawing a single geometric reference for the lumen. AFM and optical microscopy depict central cavities of different sizes and shapes. Porosity contents, varying from 0.4 to 7.2%, are estimated by high-resolution µCT. Furthermore, variations of lumen size are reported along the fibres. This intricate lumen shape might originate from the cell wall thickening and cell death but particular attention should also be paid to the effects of post mortem processes such as drying, retting and mechanical extraction of the fibre as well as sample preparation. Finally, SEM observation following tensile testing demonstrates the combined effect of geometrical inhomogeneities such as defects and intricate lumen porosity to drive the failure of the fibre.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2021


  • Flax fibre
  • Internal structure
  • Lumen
  • Porosity
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • X-ray microtomography


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