This laser beam can ‘unprint’ a paper...What?
A few days back, we reported about the invention of an “unprinter” by the scientists at the University of Cambridge. This ‘unprinter’ is nothing but a device that unleashes a green laser to remove toner from paper without harming the paper. The only thing is that a right intensity of laser can do the trick and this unprinter does just that. The best part of this unprinter is that once the toner is removed from the paper, it can be reused as well.
The original study on the topic was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society journal in February 2012. Apparently, as quoted by the study’s lead author David Leal-Ayala, the ability to reuse the same piece of paper, time and time again, may just prove to be a greener way to recycle it.
Having done the initial groundwork on what this “unprinter” is all about, here are a few pointers on various aspects of this device:
The modus operendi
The ‘laser unprinter’ as the University of Cambridge scientists call it, vaporizes the toner from the paper without causing any damage to the paper or discoloring it whatsoever. Once the device comes into action, it leaks out ultrashort pulses of green laser light to ablate dried toner ink from the paper. In layman terms, the green laser simply wipes the printed stuff on the paper. The time frame of each flash is four billionth of a second.
No, the concept is not new. Yet…
The concept is not new by any means. In fact, Toshiba already sells a printer that completely erases the toner via heat treatment. However, once the ‘laser unprinter’ is deployed, it removes ink from any normal office document.
It is greener than other recycling procedures
As quoted by industry pundits worldwide, no matter how much we promote and spread awareness about recycling, the fact of the matter is that the through it, millions of tons of carbon dioxide are produced each year. On the contrary, the laser unprinter cuts down on this very carbon footprint. It cuts down the electricity usage, CO2 emissions and makes water use (a must for many other recycling modes) totally irrelevant.
According to the estimates from the University of Cambridge researchers, once made ready for commercial use, the unprinter could reduce CO2 emissions by half. They also claim that the associated recycling process is 20 times more efficient than other contemporary processes. That’s the worst case scenario. And hopefully, with refinement over the course of time, the emissions may drop down further as well
For sure, the future looks bright for this unprinter. Yet, when will it be ready for commercial use is anyone’s guess. The research team at Cambridge has yet to secure its patents. They haven’t approached any printer manufacturer as well yet.