Repurposing lignin to generate functional afterglow paper

Mingming Yang, Hailong Li, Jing Shen, Shujun Li, Shouxin Liu, Jian Li, Zhijun Chen, Meng Li, Tony D. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignin is a significant byproduct from the pulp and paper industry. However, the conversion of lignin to a resource with added value is plagued by expensive processing. Here we report that the syringyl units (S) of sodium lignosulfonate (LS) exhibit phosphorescence in water with a lifetime of ∼2 ms and the lifetime can be prolonged up to ∼618 ms by encapsulation in Ca3(PO4)2 due to the formation of H-type dimers of the S units (LS@Ca3(PO4)2). Motivated by this, we develop afterglow paper through the in situ generation of LS@Ca3(PO4)2 in the paper matrix. The afterglow emission of the paper is sensitive to H2O2, enabling its application as a sensor for liquid/vapor H2O2. Moreover, the afterglow paper is shown to be suitable for use in anti-counterfeiting applications, enabling the development of a more sustainable pulp and paper industry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100867
JournalCell Reports Physical Science
Issue number5
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022


  • afterglow paper
  • lignin
  • RTP
  • syringyl units

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Energy(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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