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Are waterproof books on the way? Scientists have developed paper that’s waterproof, magnetic, and antibacterial

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Whether you’re a fan of e-readers or good old-fashioned paper, reading near water is, and always has been, a scary proposition. Well, my dry and rain-frightened friends, science may have an answer for you and its called nanotechnology. Using a new nanotechnological process, Italian researchers have created  paper that is waterproof, magnetic, and antibacterial (no germs!) without changing any of its basic properties, reports Forbes.

“The properties of the paper are not changed in any way and the paper is still printable,” Dr. Roberto Cingolani told Forbes. “The properties of nanoparticles are transferred to the material making it either waterproof or antibacterial, even florescent if you wanted.”

Here’s how it works

A team at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) in Genoa, Italy have managed to get the molecules that make up paper (called monomers) to connect with new nano-particles they have created in the lab. Together, they form a polymer, which is then mixed in what science class taught me is a “solution” to make a fancy “polymeric matrix” filled with nanoparticles. So, basically, they stir in their fancy nanoparticles in a unique way so that they stick to the paper molecules.

After the nanoparticles get busy with the paper, you can sprinkle in other things to give paper super-powers. Want magnetic paper? Just add in some iron oxide nanoparticles. Are you a germophobe? Silver nanoparticles will make the paper antibacterial. There is a nanoparticle for waterproofing as well. 

More than just paper

If all that sounds too amazing, you may not want to read on. This process can apparently be applied not just to ordinary printer paper, but any non-woven material, including fabrics. You can inject a material with it, roll it in, dip it in, or spray coat whatever you want. Once applied, it creates a shell around each fiber of the paper or substance.

But wait, there’s more. As it turns out, you can actually apply this process to finished products like books, magazines, newspapers, paper money, or wallpaper.

So much awesome

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What would you do with this super paper? There are so many possibilities. Imagine paper books and printouts that don’t pick up germs, or a backyard pool lined with gaudy wallpaper. You may not even need magnets to stick your kid’s next report card up on the fridge. Raves will undoubtedly have a party with florescent-lined paper.

Most of all, could this finally lead to the dust-proof paper we were promised in Back to the Future? We certainly hope so.  

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