Baku, May 5 (AZERTAC). Chemists in Italy have used nanotechnology to make paper waterproof, magnetic and antibacterial.
Roberto Cingolani is scientific director at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa, Italy, which is also the home of that loveable robot, iCub. He and his team created a polymer from the monomers or molecules that paper consists of and nanoparticles created in the lab. As Forbes explains, the polymer is then mixed in a solution to create a "polymetric matrix," which can be applied to the paper either by injection, rolling, dipping or spray-coating.
It is, however, the nanoparticles that determine the new properties of the paper. "If you add iron oxide nanoparticles to the polymer matrix, it's magnetic paper; silver nanoparticles give you antibacterial properties," says Forbes. The scientists add that "superparamagnetic manganese ferrite colloidal nanoparticles" would give you waterproof, magnetic paper. Making the paper florescent is also possible.
The solution does not coat the paper as such but creates a soft shell around each of the paper's fibres, which means the paper can still be used as normal. As Cingolani says: "The properties of the paper are not changed in any way and the paper is still printable."
The process is also suitable for finished products -- such as banknotes or wallpapers, which vastly increases its potential impact. "Antibacterial paper is potentially important for the food packaging and medical applications," says Cingolani. "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."
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