The paper of the future has actually been created already.

Dr. Roberto Cingolani, Scientific Director at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa, Italy and his team have developed a new nanotech process.

What they have discovered is a way to make paper waterproof, magnetic, and antibacterial.

Despite these additional qualities, the paper still retains its flexibility and weight that we have become accustomed too. You are still able to write on it, erase on it, or turn it into an orginial work of origami art. The medical applications of waterproof, antibacterial paper are considerable and will certainly help prevent transmission of hospital acquired infections. This paper will also find use in the OR in the continuous strive towards cleanliness and sterility. A self-cleaning, germ free paper will help to prevent the spread of diseases even in physician offices and will ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.

The process of making this new paper involves using nanoparticles applied to a polymer matrix and then taking that mixture and applying it to a  nonwoven material like fabric or paper. It is applied by rolling, dipping or spay coating the substance onto the destination material.

“The new process is based on getting the single molecules (monomers) in paper or other non woven materials to connect with specific nanoparticles that form to create a polymer which is then dispersed in a solution. The final compound is a polymeric matrix that includes nanoparticles. This nanotech process  – mixing monomers with different types of nanoparticles — lays the foundation for other things to happen when it is applied to the paper. If you add iron oxide nanoparticles to the polymer matrix, it’s magnetic paper; silver nanoparticles give you antibacterial properties.”

Dr. Cingolani emphasizes that the paper will look like ordinary paper, but will have special properties. He also mentions that, in theory, the paper can be designed to be self-cleaning.

 “The properties of the paper are not changed in any way and the paper is still printable. The properties of nanoparticles are transferred to the material making it either waterproof or antibacterial, even florescent if you wanted. 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.

Nanotechnology is a topic that has been around for awhile but is now gaining steam as a viable method of revolutionizing the healthcare industry. In fact, the iMedicalApps team has reported on other nanotechonlogy breakthroughs, such as Cyberplasm, which are nanobots capable of detecting disease.

The full published paper can be read in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

Source: Forbes