UK researchers develop 'Un-printing' laser tech

The technique, which strips ink from paper so it can be re-used, could be an environmental boon as it would reduce the need for paper recycling, the University of Cambridge researchers say.

University of Cambridge researchers have developed a way to strip ink from paper that leaves the paper ready to be re-used, raising the possibility of 'un-printers' being developed.

The technique, announced on Wednesday, involves short bursts of green laser light that are sufficient to vaporise printed toner, but not so harsh as to destroy the paper. Cambridge's Low Carbon Materials Processing Group leader Julian Allwood and PhD student David Leal-Ayala published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A journal.

According to Allwood and Leal-Ayala, paper can be reused around three times via this method before it is thinned out or yellowed to the point where recycling is the sensible option.