SEM imaging was performed via a Zeiss FE-SEM field emission microscope with variable pressure for all the samples (Microscopy Center, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland). The microscope was operating at 1 to 1.5 kV for all the samples. For imaging the CNF starting material, 10 μl of the suspension was plunged into a liquid ethane [50% (v/v)] propane [50% (v/v)] mixture at −180°C. Samples were then handled under liquid nitrogen and transferred into a freeze dryer (FreeZone 4.5 Liter Cascade Benchtop) equipped with a collector cooling chamber at −105°C and allowed to fully dry. A thin platinum coating (approximately 2 to 4 nm) was sputtered onto the samples before the imaging of the surfaces and the cross sections of the fibers. For further analysis and image processing, software packages ImageJ and ImageJ Fiji (versions 1.47d) (38) were used. We imaged the surface and cross section of fibers in a dried state without any modifications.

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