A group of scientists from US and China have finally discovered an alternative to ink. A coating, made out of nano particles, enables printing by light. It is not only cheaper to produce, it is also easier to use and is environment-friendly. If the commercial use of this substitute is finalized, it could revolutionize the world of ink and paper.
How Light-Printable Paper Is Created
It all started with the discovery of a nano particle coating that could easily be applied to traditional paper. It was observed that when UV light shines on it, the color of the paper changes. The same procedure can be reversed merely by heating the coating to a temperature of about 120 degrees Celsius.
Two components are used for the process — a Prussian blue, a blue pigment, and titanium dioxide (TiO2), a photocatalytic material. When both of them are combined, it produces a solid blue color. However, as soon as it encounters UV light, the TiO2 particles become excited and release electrons As a result, the Prussian blue pigment is rendered colorless, which essentially “prints” the blank parts of the page.
The new paper created out of nano particles can be an effective alternative to traditional paper. This is because it “has the same feel and appearance as conventional paper, but can be printed and erased repeatedly without the need for additional ink” one of the research team, Yadong Yin from the University of California, Riverside, told Phys. Moreover, the light-printable paper can be used as anything from newspapers to labels.
Benefits of Light-Printable Paper
If the replacement becomes a reality, it will save a lot on traditional paper and ink. This could mean cost effectiveness to a great extent for commercial businesses and educational institutions where the consumption of the aforementioned items is the maximum. On the other hand, environment costs like recycling and properly disposing off old paper can also be cut back, reported Science Alert.
Moreover, there cannot be any inconsistencies in the quality of printing when it comes to the light-printing technology. This is because it only supports high-definition printing. The print almost contains a “magical” quality, which enables the ink to stay in place for five days before fading away. This leaves behind a blank sheet of paper, ready to be reused as many as 80 times more.
However, this is not the first time that an alternative to traditional paper has been proposed. Back in 2014, Yin had developed a prototype of the same chemical printing using UV light. The nano particle coating enabled the paper to be reused only 20 times after the first use. It was not this easy to use either. Nevertheless, there is s along way for Yin to go before he and his team comes up with a more stable way to develop the technology into a practical printing system.