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“Killer Paper” Preserves Food With Silver Nanoparticles

The new technique could some day replace methods such as radiation, refrigeration, and heat treatment.

“Killer Paper” Preserves Food With Silver Nanoparticles
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Scientists, bless their hearts, have invented something called “killer paper,” a material that could be used in food packaging to preserve freshness. What the paper kills is bacteria causing food spoilage, something it achieves through a coating of antibacterial silver nanoparticles. The scientists described their finding in the new issue of the journal Langmuir.

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The idea behind the technology is not entirely new. We already find antibacterial silver in trace amounts in curious places–some medical ointments, for instance, and some odor-resistant socks. The hopes for silver nanoparticles, which are 1/50,000 of the width of a human hair, are broader: Some researchers even hope they might prove to be the solution to antibiotic resistance of some highly evolved bacteria.

In the past it has proven tricky to develop paper of this sort. Now, however, the scientists were able to deposit the silver nanoparticles in a lasting way by using high-frequency sound waves. The coated paper killed off E. coli and another nasty bacteria in just three hours. “Killer paper” could, according to the researchers, someday replace current preservation techniques such as irradiation and heat treatment.

Earlier: The End of Moldy Strawberries? New iPhone App Tracks Food Freshness

[Image: Flickr user Gudlyf]

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal

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