Really tough. Paper is usually made out of pulped plant tissues. Almost any fiber like structure can be pulped into paper, and the latest example is using titanium dioxide nano-fibers to create a paper-like product that can withstand 700 degrees Celsius, making the paper fire resistant. In addition, due to the fun properties of titanium dioxide it is also self-cleaning in UV light, and could act as a re-usable sterile filter.The press release from the University of Arkansas adds:
"...researchers have created assemblies of nanowires that show potential in applications such as armor, flame-retardant fabric, bacteria filters, oil cracking, controlled drug release, decomposition of pollutants and chemical warfare agents."
The paper is produced by combining Tio2 in an alkali solution (possibly lye). The product mixture is placed in a Teflon container and let to sit at 200-300 C for a few days. This enables the solution to evaporate, and something about the Teflon, or the alkali solution probably directs the Ti02 to form nano-fibers. The fibers are rinsed with water, and while still a pulp, made into a paper; sounds easy. The process is as non-toxic as many paper making schemes, and I can already imagine trying the heating step with a solar oven.
The possible products of this kind of paper will challenge the role normal paper plays. Instead the self-cleaning filter capability of TiO2 might take precedence, as it lends itself to medical and pollution control situations. The paper is also capable of being molded into 3-dimensional shapes. What about origami with titanium paper? We already have solar cells using TiO2, as well as pollution eating concrete. Now we have fire resistant, self cleaning, pollution eating, photo-voltaic possibilities(?), paper.
The scientists are looking for ways to commercialize this product. My first suggestion is to get a nice picture of the paper not catching on fire. Whatever their marketing scheme, keep your eyes peeled for titanium dioxide paper products in the future. ::University of Arkansas