A type of paper that is both fire and water resistant has been invented by a team of scientists in China. This is the first time paper has been able to repel water and withstand extreme temperatures – up to 200C.
Researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics have been developing the super paper since 2008 and now believe it will appear on the market in the next three years.
"We believe the paper will be beneficial to people for all kinds of different uses, ranging from using it for calligraphy to making advertising billboards," lead researcher Zhu Yingjie, told the South China Morning Post. "The paper will also be useful for preserving important documents for centuries, because we do not need to worry that it will be destroyed in fire or through water hazards."
The paper is one of a number of super materials currently being developed at the institute. They were able to create it by changing the structure of the paper, mixing in hydroxyapatite - a form of calcium that is found in bone and tooth enamel.
The paper is made from ultra-long hydroxyapatite nanowires and used different preparation methods to test its properties. Eventually the researchers produced the strongest fire-resistant inorganic paper to date.
"The sheets of fire-resistant inorganic paper with A4 size have been successfully developed, which can be directly printed with high-quality in the colour printer," a statement from the Institute said. Researchers added the paper meets the national standards for copying paper required.
"Paper and paper products are indispensable in the daily work and life, while human health is threatened by the bacteria attaching on the paper and spreading through the crowds, such as medical record paper, banknotes and a variety of invoices, and other frequently exchanging paper," the statement continued.
"Due to its highly efficient antibiosis, the antibacterial fire-resistant inorganic paper thus possesses a good application prospect. It also has research significance and practical value in preventing the mildew from the collections of the books and the cultural relics."