Paper reinforced with regenerated cellulose: a sustainable and fascinating material with good mechanical performance, barrier properties and shape retention in water
Cellulosic materials are becoming more and more important in our daily life. However, if cellulose in its natural form such as paper is to be applied in advanced applications, it should exhibit unique characters in mechanical performance, barrier properties, etc. This paper describes a new method to design and fabricate a pure cellulosic composite with excellent mechanical and barrier properties via simple coating and cross-linking between original paper and regenerated cellulose. The cellulosic composite overcomes the shortcomings of the low mechanical and barrier performance of original paper. This material had an ultrahigh tensile strength, a high elongation and toughness at break of 76 MPa, 12% and 7 MJ m−1, and 13 MPa, 11% and 0.75 MJ m−3 under wet conditions, which were greater than those of original paper (dry: 20 MPa, 2.8%, 0.3 MJ m−3; wet: 1.08 MPa, 2.8%, 0.028 MJ m−3). Besides, the composite papers showed good barrier properties for small molecules such as polar molecules (H2O) and non-polar molecules (O2). Interestingly, the as-synthesized material exhibited shape-retention when the material was wetted with water.