New ‘Super Paper’ Stronger than Cast Iron

Recently a group of researchers in Sweden and Japan reported the development of a new type of paper that resists breakage when pulled apart almost as well as that of cast iron. Composed of sub-microscopic particles of cellulose, this material, which has been called “cellulose nanopaper”, may open the way for expanded use of paper as a construction material as well as in other various applications.




 Lars A. Berglund (Credit: Lulea University of Technology)
Lars A. Berglund
(Credit: Lulea University
of Technology)

Lars A. Berglund, head of the research team, along with his colleagues, noticed that cellulose has potential as a strong, lightweight ingredient in composites and other materials in a wide range of products. Cellulose is a tough, widely available substance, easily obtained from plants. Although cellulose-based composites have high strength, until recently existing materials were brittle and had a tendency to snap easily when pulled.  

 A cross-section of a fracture surface of a cellulose nanofibril film. (Credit: Courtesy of American Chemical Society)
A cross-section of a fracture surface of
a cellulose nanofibril film. (Credit:
Courtesy of American Chemical Society)

This latest study described a possible solution to the problem, involving the exposure of the wood pulp to certain chemicals to produce this new cellulose nanopaper. The researchers found that its strength and ability to resist pull before snapping exceeded that of cast iron. By changing the paper’s internal structure, the researchers were able to adjust the paper’s strength. 

TFOT recently covered a newly created microbe which produces cellulose that can be turned into ethanol and other biofuels, as well as graphene paper which is tougher than diamonds, and a strong, light transparent plastic

To read more about this super paper, go to the American Chemical Society website.