Friday, June 20, 2008

New Paper Stronger than Iron

Some people couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag. Soon, this might include you, too. From the Better Living Through Chemistry files:
Punching your way out of a paper bag could become a lot harder, thanks to the development of a new kind of paper that is stronger than cast iron.

The new paper could be used to reinforce conventional paper, produce extra-strong sticky tape or help create tough synthetic replacements for biological tissues, says Lars Berglund from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Despite its great strength, Berglund's "nanopaper" is produced from a biological material found in conventional paper: cellulose. This long sugar molecule is a principal component of plant cell walls and is the most common organic compound on Earth.
Mechanical testing shows it has a tensile strength of 214 megapascals, making it stronger than cast iron (130 MPa) and almost as strong as structural steel (250 MPa).

Normal paper has a tensile strength less than 1 MPa. The tests used strips 40 millimetres long by 5mm wide and about 50 micrometres thick.
Who knows? Perhaps in the future we'll all be wearing our recyclable Level IIIA bullet-resistant vests made of ... paper! And so long as we don't sweat and it doesn't rain, we'll be all set. :)

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