Despite the many talks about a paperless office over the years, the pulp product remains an indispensable part of our daily lives. And from the looks of things, it isn’t likely to be going away any time soon. Instead of looking for more ways to eliminate paper, chemists from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) decided to take steps to improve it, instead.
Unlike regular paper that’s rendered unusable after it’s been printed on, the newly-developed prototype paper can have all of its contents erased, rendering it completely blank and available for printing on once again. That way, all those reports you print out won’t need to be shredded and disposed of after their usefulness has passed – you simply erase the print and use the same sheets all over again.
The rewritable paper isn’t used the same way as ordinary paper. For one, you don’t actually print on it using ink from a printer. Instead, it requires an ultraviolet printing process, where the paper is exposed to UV light to create the impressions on the sheet. For erasing, the sheet needs to simply be exposed to a heat of 115 °C, which will cause the impressions to disappear and leave the paper completely blank. It uses the technology of redox dyes to accomplish this feat (the paper is, basically, coated with it), whose color-switching properties enable the unique printing process. Each sheet is constructed as a film made from plastic and glass, with enough of the active material to allow it to be printed and erased up to 20 times, without any significant loss in contrast or resolution.
You can read the complete report from the science journal, Nature.