Thanks to scientists from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, time may come when you don't have to worry about spilling water on books. The researchers have come up with a way to make paper impervious not only to liquid but also to bacteria while retaining all of its papery properties — you can still write and print on it like any other paper out there in spite of its super-paper capabilities.
So how does a seemingly normal piece of paper repel liquid and bacteria anyway? The magic happens at the molecular level. The scientists have devised a way so that particular nanoparticles wrap around each minuscule paper fiber like a shell. For instance, adding iron oxide nanoparticles makes the paper magnetic, while adding silver nanoparticles gives it the power to repel bacteria. The same process could also be used to create magnetic and self-cleaning paper, and paper that glows in the dark!
According to head researcher Dr. Roberto Cingolani, antibacterial paper has the potential to be widely used for food packaging and medical applications. Fluorescent and magnetic paper could be used to make currency, while waterproof paper could be used to print highly important documents like those that protect cultural heritage. If only the modified paper can also play music, then it'll be perfect!
[Image credit: Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia]
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