In Japan, came up with an eco-friendly replacement for plastic - waterproof paper

Researchers from the Institute of Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo led by Zenji Hiroi

developed Choetsu's economical biodegradable coating. This technology makes the paper waterproof while maintaining its flexibility.

Choetsu consists of safe and inexpensivechemicals, mainly methyltrimethoxysilane, some isopropyl alcohol and a small amount of tetraisopropyl titanate. The authors of the development note that when in contact with air moisture, these materials spontaneously form a strong and waterproof film on the surface of the paper.

To give the properties of plastic to paperproducts, such as food containers, they must be sprayed or immersed in a liquid mixture of chemicals. After that, the products must be dried at room temperature. The researchers say that after drying, the cellulose from which the paper is made forms a thin layer of silica containing methyl alcohol, which provides strength and water resistance.

The structure of the material in x-rays. Source: Hiroi et al.

As scientists emphasize, in the process of processingpaper, a layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles 2 nm in size is automatically formed on the surface of the film. These elements provide the decomposition of methylene blue and the antibacterial activity of the surface. In addition, the film has a high adsorption capacity, effectively capturing organic pollutants until they are decomposed by photocatalytic reactions.

Scientists note that all the chemicals that form the coating eventually break down into harmless components such as carbon, water and silicon.

“Now we hope to use this approach andfor other types of materials. The liquid formulation can be customized for other substances, for example, we can create a dirt and mildew resistant coating that can be applied to glass, ceramics and even other plastics to extend their lifespan,” says Professor Hiroi.

Cover photo: treated and untreated paper origami in water. Hiroi et al.

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