A nanoparticle spray can turn regular paper into superpaper, rendering it waterproof, antimicrobial, magnetic and probably very expensive. Who said paper was an old technology?
Scientists at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genoa, Italy, developed a process to cover any cellulose fiber, like paper or fabric, with a reactive coating. It involves combining the fiber molecules with a nanoparticle solution, creating a polymer matrix.
The cellulose fibers are wetted with an acrylic solution containing manganese ferrite nanoparticles, which are magnetic. When it gets wet, the mixture forms a nano-shell around each individual fiber, rendering the fiber water-repellent. Scientists can change the composition of the nanoparticles to make it more or less magnetically responsive, or to add other attributes, like perhaps fluorescence. Add some colloidal silver, and it could be antibacterial.
Aside from the small nano-shell around each of the fibers, the paper’s properties don’t change — you could still print with it, fold it, mail it or whatever you want, as Forbes explains. The paper could have a wide range of applications, from food packaging and medical documents to secure bank notes. Waterproof paper could be used to protect valuable documents, according to Roberto Cingolani, scientific director at the IIT.
The superpaper is described in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.