If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was paper. Because it is. But it isn’t. A team at MIT has developed nanopaper, which has all the qualities of regular old-fashioned paper, including size, weight, printability, cut-ability, even the way it’s made. But it’s far more than just paper.
We’ve seen nanotechnology posing as paper before, but this is something exceptionally cool because of its function. Made of nanowires, this paper can sit on water for months at a time, soaking up to 20 times its weight in oil, while never soaking up a drop of water. It was created to help remove oil and other toxins after oil spills. To keep it from absorbing water, the nanopaper is coated with siloxane vapor so it repels water while attracting oil. Laid down on the tough-to-clean areas of spills, the sheets quickly absorb oil and store it in the itty bitty nooks and crannies made by the clumped-together nanowires (think: butter in an English Muffin), making the toughest parts of cleaning up spills a whole heck of a lot easier.
The best part is the sheets are reuseable. After absorbing all the oil it can gather, the sheets are boiled, removing the oil, and then reused.
Shhh….do you hear that? Seals and seagulls are cheering.
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