Paper that Self-Erases Within 24-Hours
Scientists have invented a way to make prints whose images last only a day, so that the paper can be used again and again
Xerox Corporation scientists have invented a way to make prints whose images last only a day, so that the paper can be used again and again. The technology blurs the line between paper documents and digital displays and could ultimately lead to a significant reduction in paper use.
The experimental printing technology, a collaboration between the Xerox Research Centre of Canada and PARC (Palo Alto Research Center Inc.), could someday replace printed pages that are used for just a brief time before being discarded. Xerox estimates that as many as two out of every five pages printed in the office are for what it calls "daily" use, like e-mails, Web pages and reference materials that have been printed for a single viewing.
To develop erasable paper, researchers needed to identify ways to create temporary images. The "a-ha" moment came from developing compounds that change color when they absorb a certain wavelength of light but then will gradually disappear. In its present version, the paper self-erases in about 16-24 hours and can be used multiple times.
While scientists at XRCC work on the chemistry of the technology, their counterparts at PARC are investigating ways to build a device that could write the image onto the special paper. PARC researchers developed a prototype "printer" that creates the image on the paper using a light bar that provides a specific wavelength of light as a writing source. The written image fades naturally over time or can be immediately erased by exposing it to heat.
Opportunity: Cut the use of paper, thus saving forests
Threat: Possible threat for the paper companies