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Chementator Briefs

By Gerald Ondrey |

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Bright white without TiO2 Titanium dioxide has been the standard pigment used for white coloring of lacquers, paints, and plastics, as well as of cosmetics, foods, chewing gum and pills. “Titanium dioxide has a very high refractive index, it reflects incident light almost completely,” explains professor Hendrik Hölscher of the Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT; Germany; www.kit.edu). “But it is associated with the drawback that its particles do not degrade and thus pollute the environment in the long term,” says Hölscher. In addition, there have been concerns that TiO2 could be harmful to health. To eliminate the use of TiO2, the researchers have developed porous polymer structures of comparably high scattering efficiency. The polymer was inspired by the white beetle Cyphochilus insulanus, whose chitin scales appear white thanks to their special nanostructure. “Based on this model, we produce polymer-based solid, porous nanostructures, which resemble a sponge,” says Hölscher. Similar to the bubbles of shaving or bathing foam, the structure scatters light, which makes the material appear white. “The polymer foils produced by our process are extremely thin,…
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