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Researchers Create Glowing Nanocellulose Paper

A team of scientists at Sichuan University in China has developed the first light-emitting, transparent and flexible paper out of environmentally friendly materials.

This transparent and photoluminescent nanocellulose paper could lead to sustainable, roll-up electronics. Image credit: American Chemical Society.

This transparent and photoluminescent nanocellulose paper could lead to sustainable, roll-up electronics. Image credit: American Chemical Society.

Experts have long predicted the coming age of flexible electronics, and researchers around the world have been working on multiple fronts to reach that goal.

But many of the advances rely on petroleum-based plastics and toxic materials.

Sichuan University scientists co-led by Dr Yu-zhong Wang and Dr Fei Song wanted to seek a greener way forward.

They developed a thin, clear nanocellulose paper made out of wood flour and infused it with biocompatible quantum dots – tiny, semiconducting crystals – made out of zinc and selenium.

The paper glowed at room temperature and could be rolled and unrolled without cracking.

“We describe a facile way to fabricate a novel transparent and photoluminescent foldable nanocellulose paper with impressive light emitting, mechanical properties, and thermal stability,” the scientists wrote in the study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials Interfaces.

“This material can bring a new thinking on future electronic displays and 3D printing papers.”

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Juan Xue et al. 2015. Let It Shine: A Transparent and Photoluminescent Foldable Nanocellulose/Quantum Dot Paper. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 7 (19), pp. 10076–10079; doi: 10.1021/acsami.5b02011