Harvesting the properties of widely available natural biopolymers for the design of novel systems in nanobiotechnology has been largely ignored in favor of other biological molecules, such as proteins, viruses, or DNA. A joint research effort between the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and the Purdue University has shown that cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) have the capacity to assist in the synthesis of metallic and semiconducting nanoparticle chains. Silver (Ag), gold (Au), copper (Cu), platinum (Pt), cadmium sulfide (CdS) and zinc sulfide (ZnS) nanoparticles were synthesized on CNCs, and the nanoparticle density and particle size could be controlled. CNCs are rod-like reinforcement material that can be extracted from trees, plants and some sea animals (sea squirts). This new technology has potential benefit to a variety of cellulose based industries (paper, packaging, textile, etc) and has potential applications for sensors, catalysts, antimicrobial materials, current carrying and energy storage capabilities.