Researchers in Sweden and Japan report development of a new type of paper that resists breaking when pulled almost as well as cast iron. The new material, called "cellulose nanopaper," is made of sub-microscopic particles of cellulose and may open the way for expanded use of paper as a construction material and in other applications, they suggest. Their study is scheduled for the June 9 issue of ACS' Biomacromolecules.
In the new study, Lars A. Berglund and colleagues note that cellulose — a tough, widely available substance obtained from plants — has potential as a strong, lightweight ingredient in composites and other materials in a wide range of products.
Although cellulose-based composites have high strength, existing materials are brittle and snap easily when pulled.
The study described a solution to this problem. It involves exposing wood pulp to certain chemicals to produce cellulose nanopaper. Their study found that its tensile strength — a material's ability to resist pull before snapping — exceeded that of cast iron.
They also were able to adjust the paper's strength by changing its internal structure.
Explore further: Engineered proteins stick like glue—even in water