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.
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.
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