Scientists from the UK have proposed a technology for the production of glitter – decorative sequins – from cellulose, which does not pollute the environment with microplastics.
For thousands of years, people have used brilliant pigments to express their drawings and make–up: mica flakes, pyrite, crushed green malachite, galena and other minerals were used. By the 19th century, sparkles began to be made from powdered glass, and in 1934 a technological breakthrough occurred in their production: the American machinist Henry Ruschmann (Henry Ruschmann) accidentally invented a method for making plastic glitter in huge quantities. The company he founded, Meadowbrook Inventions , still produces tens of thousands of glitters.
However, this technology can hardly be called environmentally friendly: toxic materials are often used to produce sparkles, which pollute the environment with microplastics . The authors of a new article figured out how to make eco–friendly, non–toxic and biodegradable glitter from cellulose, one of the most common plant–based biopolymers.
The technology is based on the phenomenon of structural coloration , an optical phenomenon in which nanoparticles with an ordered structure appear brightly colored in the absence of pigments. This is due to the fact that the distances between the elements of the structure are commensurate with the wavelength of visible light, and, getting into structurally colored particles, the light spectrum changes – and we see color.
Structurally colored cellulose nanoparticles were created by scientists using roll technologies, which are used to manufacture electrical appliances on rolls of flexible plastic. The liquid cellulose slurry is converted into a cellulose film and then cut and ground into particles of suitable size for glitter.
The researchers showed that their method is environmentally friendly and much less energy intensive than traditional approaches. In addition, the technology is suitable for the industrial production of glitter. The authors of the article hope that their development will help the cosmetic industry become more environmentally friendly.