A complex hierarchy
Not of people, but of molecules
An intricate hierarchy
Not social, not corporate, but natural
Extremely organized, but riddled with chaos, too
Intertwining chains, forming cliques with one another
Reaching out, pulling others into their growing bundles
Coming together, until fully eclipsed by a whole new scale
Scale up and up
Atoms, molecules, polymers, fibers, cell walls, stems
Up and up
Until the trees brush the clouds

An intricate hierarchy
Detailed, yet disordered
Transforming with each step
From miniscule, to immense
Into a beautifully constructed network
Entangled and sophisticated
Designed carefully, by nature itself

This poem describes the complexity of the hierarchical structure of cellulose in nature. While highly complex, there still exists some chaos and disorder in the system. A set number of cellulose chains become elementary fibrils, which bundle into microfibrils, and then macroscale fibers in the cell walls of plants. This structure built by nature is highly intricate and interesting, enabling many of the interesting properties and applications of cellulose and lignocellulosic materials.

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About the Image

Graphic created by Center for Lignocellulosic Structure and Formation (CLSF) for the Poetry and Science Art Contest II at the 2023 DOE EFRC-Hub-CMS-CSS Principal Investigators’ Meeting.


Mica L. Pitcher
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