Hefei, December 27 (China Youth Daily) — Why is rice paper, known as “paper life for a thousand years”, soft and tough, undamaged? The reporter learned from the University of Science and Technology of China today that Guan Qingfang, a special associate researcher of the school’s academician Yu Shuhong’s team, explored the microscopic mechanism of high strength and high toughness through the detailed structural characterization of traditional rice paper, and invented a high-performance transparent foldable film with a multi-scale structure inspired by the manufacturing process and structure of rice paper. The results were recently published in ACS Material Alerts.

Rice paper is made from sandalwood bark and sand field straw and has gone through hundreds of processes. Through the structural study of rice paper, the team found that a large number of nanofibers and micro fibers are intertwined inside rice paper, forming a multi-scale three-dimensional network of micron and nano, and this biomimetic structure gives rice paper the mechanical advantages of high strength and high flexibility.

Inspired by rice paper, the researchers assembled micro-cellulose and cellulose nanofibers into multi-scale structures to produce sustainably produced high-performance transparent foldable films. Near-field communication circuit electronics made of this film combine high transparency, high haze, and excellent flexibility, and can accurately record and read information when bent.

In addition, the film achieves both high strength and flexibility, has no destructive creases after being fully folded, and returns to its original shape after rolling. The film also has excellent mechanical, thermodynamic and optical properties, making it an ideal thin film material for precision optics and flexible electronics.

Illustration: Photographs, characterizations and preparation of multi-scale films on traditional rice paper, as well as flexible electronic devices based on multi-scale film preparation. Photo courtesy of China University of Science and Technology

Source: China Youth Daily client