Microcups made of nanopaper

Researchers at the University of Arkansas have created long nanowires with titanium dioxide and assembled them into pieces of 'nanopaper.' This flexible paper can be fold into 3D nanostructures such as tubes, bowls or cups. This kind of nanopaper could soon be used for decomposition of pollutants and chemical warfare agents.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas have created long nanowires with titanium dioxide and assembled them into pieces of 'nanopaper.' This flexible paper can be fold into 3D nanostructures such as tubes, bowls or cups. This kind of nanopaper could soon be used for applications such as bacteria filters, decomposition of pollutants and chemical warfare agents. But first the University needs to find industrial partners. Read more...

This technology has been implemented by Z. Ryan Tian, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and his colleagues.

"Humans have used paper made from natural fibers for thousands of years," said Z. Ryan Tian. "With this technology, we are entering a new era."
Tian and his team used a hydrothermal heating process to create long nanowires out of titanium dioxide and from there created free-standing membranes. The resulting material is white in color and resembles regular paper.
Further, the material can be cast into different three-dimensional shapes, with different functions. The researchers have created tubes, bowls and cups using this process. These three-dimensional hollow objects can be manipulated by hand and trimmed with scissors, the researchers report.

Below is a diagram showing how to build a nanofiber cup (Credit: Z. Ryan Tian).

How to build a nanofiber cup

And below is a picture of different objects built with 'nanopaper' (Credit: Z. Ryan Tian). You'll have access to larger versions of these images on this page.

Objects built with nanopaper

Besides these nice looking cups, what will this nanopaper useful for?

[These nanowires] show potential in applications such as armor, flame-retardant fabric, bacteria filters, oil cracking, controlled drug release, decomposition of pollutants and chemical warfare agents.

Ryan Tian has already created other nanostructures with other kinds of materials. For example, he recently co-authored a paper published byInorganic Chemistry, "Hexagonal and Prismatic Nanowalled ZnO Microboxes" (Vol. 45, No. 8, April 17, 2006).

Here are two links to the abstract and to some supplementary information (PDF format, 2 pages) which show these microboxes.

Sources: University of Arkansas news release, June 7, 2006; and various web sites

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