Italian researchers have developed a groundbreaking waterproof paper design with a host of potential packaging applications.
Not only does this paper resist water but, in addition, it's magnetic and antibacterial and it's the product of a research team based at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, led by Doctor Roberto Cingolani.
The paper's astonishing capabilities come courtesy of the nanoparticle mix used to coat it, which forms a shell-like protective layer. This layer, though, isn't one complete surface since the nanoparticle mix wraps itself around individual paper fibres, creating a kind of nanotech tapestry. Different types of nanoparticles, with specific properties, are incorporated - the silver nanoparticles make it bacteria-resistant, for example, while the iron oxide particles make it magnetic.
The Italian researchers responsible for creating this waterproof paper point out that the same technique can be used on other materials, too, so long as they're non-woven.
"The properties of the paper are not changed in any way and the paper is still printable," Doctor Cingolani explained to Forbes, adding: "The properties of nanoparticles are transferred to the material making it either waterproof or antibacterial, even florescent if you wanted."
For the packaging industry, this is a potentially very exciting breakthrough. Multiple products could benefit from this technology including medical supplies and foods while, according to Doctor Cingolani: "Fluorescent and magnetic paper could be used for security and bank note/currency protection or other similar documents...[while] waterproof paper could be used to protect cultural heritage documents."
In news related to the nanoparticle-based paper, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently called for new and in-depth nanotechnology-based research to take place and wants companies whose products have a nanotech element to contact it and enter into safety-based discussions.
"Understanding nanotechnology remains a top FDA priority", FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stated. "FDA is strengthening the scientific tools and methods for evaluating food products, cosmetics, drugs and medical devices."
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