Mudrika Khandelwal (alumna of MML and currently assistant professor in IIT Hyderabad) and Alan Windle (MML) have recently published a paper in the journal "Carbohydrate Polymers". The article, titled "Origin of chiral interactions in cellulose supra-molecular microfibrils", discusses the origins of the chiral-nematic phase in cellulose nanowhiskers.
"The formation of a chiral-nematic phase from cellulose nanowhiskers has been frequently reported in the literature. The most popular theory used to explain the chiral interactions is that of twisted morphology of cellulose nanowhiskers. Two possible origins of twist have been suggested: the intrinsic chirality of cellulose chains and result of interaction of chiral surfaces. High resolution SEM and AFM have been used to locate twists in cellulose microfibrils and nanowhiskers. The origin of the twisted morphology in cellulose microfibrils has been studied with reference to the protein aggregation theory."
Link to article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.01.050