Scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology have created a new type of paper that is waterproof, magnetic and antibacterial. (No more soggy newspapers!) And don’t worry — the paper, despite being waterproof, still captures your pen doodles.
First, let’s talk about the technology that makes the paper waterproof: It involves a little nanoparticle spray.
The spray, which consists of a single molecule type called a monomer (so named because it bonds with other monomers to form a polymer) doesn’t coat the entire sheet of paper, but instead forms “a polymeric shell around each individual fiber of paper,” study co-author Despina Fragouli told MSNBC. Each of those shells, then, is impervious to water droplets.
Yet, the paper still holds ink because of wax particles included with the polymer. They cause the coated paper to be “sticky,” as Dr. Fragouli told The Atlantic, so the ink adheres to the waxy paper while the polymeric shells keep the paper dry.
Magnetic, antibacterial, self-cleaning, fluorescent and more
You can also add other properties to the paper using the nanotechnology: As Forbes noted:
If you add iron oxide nanoparticles to the polymer matrix, it’s magnetic paper; silver nanoparticles give you antibacterial properties.
Additionally, you could add different nanoparticles to the compound that would result in self-cleaning paper and fluorescent paper too.
The applications for such paper vary widely, as study co-author Dr. Roberto Cingolani told Forbes:
Antibacterial paper is potentially important for the food packaging and medical applications. Fluorescent and magnetic paper could be used for security and bank note/currency protection or other similar documents. Waterproof paper could be used to protect cultural heritage documents.
So someday, we may get antibacterial wallpaper in hospitals and doctor’s offices, antibacterial paper towels, paper lunch bags that never get greasy … I, personally, would love books of waterproof paper, so you never have to worry about a book’s pages getting ruined if you spill a glass of water or are caught in an unexpected downpour.
The superpaper was described in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.