By ANDRIANNA MARSTON
Traditional printing and writing paper will soon have a
better quality because of a new industrial contract the Institute for
Micromanufacturing has received from two major paper companies.
Yuri Lvov, an associate professor of chemistry in the
IfM, said the research facility now has a $150,000 contract with leading paper
companies SAPPI and International Paper to develop Smart Paper, a stronger and
“The idea is to apply nano-technology to pulp and paper
processing to make paper twice as strong than it has ever been before and more
white,” Lvov said.
Lvov said using wood pulp to make paper is a concept that
was introduced in Chinese culture years ago, and the same approach is used
today in the United States.
“Louisiana plays a major role with the U.S. being one of
the leading paper producers in the world today,” Lvov said. “But our nation is
losing paper production leadership because labor production is decreasing.”
Lvov said for the U.S. to earn back the No. 1 spot, a few
changes in paper production would help.
“Paper production in our nation is suffering from overseas
competition with cheap labor,” Lvov said. “If we start applying nano-technology
to improve the quality of paper, we are sure to kick competition to the side
until the technology emerges overseas.”
Lvov said the economic industry will learn a great deal
about the emergence of nano-technology because of this new paper, and Tech will
learn much more about the paper-making industry.
Kody Varahramyan, director of the IfM and a professor of
electrical engineering, said he is collaborating with Lvov to make the new
paper, which will reach shelves only after more research is done.
“Inventing the new Smart Paper does not mean researchers
at IfM are paper manufacturers; it just means the team is applying
nano-technology, a resource competitors do not have, to remodel ordinary
paper,” Varahramyan said.
Varahramyan said it will be a few years before Smart
Paper will be available for purchase because the project requires more
Patrick Grant, a graduate student of biomedical
engineering, said one of the objectives of the research is to use more recycled
Grant said, “By improving the quality of paper at the
IfM, we help decrease competition for the U.S. and increase production for our