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The concept of cellulose crystallinity is a difficult one. The nature of the crystalline forms of cellulose is well established but cellulose, especially the forms of cellulose found in wood and in the growing cells of higher plants, deviates from these crystalline structures in a number of independent ways that are detected independently by different methods of characterisation. These ideas are explored against the background of the uses to which cellulose is put. It is shown that, in particular, different aspects on non-crystallinity are identified by spectroscopic and by diffraction methods. It follows that estimates of crystallinity obtained by these methods do not always agree.

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