Mar 312011
 
Talking To A Brick Wall

Image by Joriel "Joz" Jimenez via Flickr

We’ve already heard about new types of packaging that use things such as sorbic acid and silver nanoparticles to keep food fresh for longer, but this week scientists from Texas A&M University announced the development of a “nano-brick” film that utilizes yet another substance to achieve the same purpose.

That substance is montmorillonite clay, which is one of the ingredients used to make bricks. The film is about 70 percent clay (with the rest of it made from various polymer materials) and when its structure is viewed through an electron microscope, it actually even looks like bricks and mortar.

The transparent film would be applied to existing packaging, through a spraying or dipping process, and is less than 100 nanometers thick – much thinner than a human hair. Thin though it might be, it is said to add considerable strength to the host material, and to act as an improved barrier for keeping oxygen from reaching the food. In lab tests, it was reportedly shown to be 100 times more oxygen-impermeable than existing silicon oxide coatings.

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