It's not a good week for the printed word—first, the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced it will be ending a 244-year print publishing run and now we learn that scientists at England's University of Cambridge have devised a way to remove ink itself from the paper it's adorning.
Dubbed a "laser unprinter," the process works by zapping toner with lasers to remove the ink, according to an abstract of the study presented in Proceedings of the Royal Society. Toner ablation, as lead author J.M. Allwood and colleagues call it, involves shooting a range of laser bursts, from "nanosecond pulses" to long-pulsed beams.
Why bother? "Toner-print removal from paper would allow paper to be re-used instead of being recycled, incinerated, or disposed of in landfill .. [which] could significantly reduce the environmental impact of paper production and use," according to the researchers.
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