Paper is getting a 21st-century technology makeover and going beyond the e-book.
Electronic sensors built into paper could be used in a range of ways from information storage to touch screens and more.
The major obstacles are paper's large surface roughness, porosity and chemical impurities.
Although the technology is promising, applying it to consumer products could take years.
Electronic sensors built into cartons may make it easier to tell when it's time to toss out funky milk or orange juice. And that's just the start.
At least that's the goal for researchers working on putting electronics into paper. They're trying to figure out how to combine the flexibility, low-cost and recyclability of paper with the information-carrying ability of electronics.
Daniel Torbjork, a physics graduate student at the Abo Akademi University in Finland, has been working on the problem. He's published a review of the field in the May issue of the journal Advanced Materials.
Much research has been focused in this area. While most electronic applications require patterned conducting structures, conducting paper could be used in applications such as energy storage devices, sensors, electric heaters, electric field emitters, antistatic coatings, and electromagnetic shields, according to Torbjork.