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Researchers Create Water-Jet 'Rewritable' Paper That Can Be Reused More Than 80 Times

Mar 23, 2017 12:51 PM EDT

Scientists have finally created a reprintable paper that when used with a special ink can be reused for more than 80 times.

According to the team of scientists, lead by Yadong Yin and Wenshou Wang, from the University of California, Riverside and Shandong University, China, the paper uses a special coating that needs no ink and can be printed with light.

The team created the paper by using special nanoparticles 100,000 times thinner than paper itself. Each particle can gather photons and change in color.

In their paper, published in the journal Nature, the researchers noted that the most important step in creating the reprintable paper is finding a particle that's transparent but can change color to something visible, and can repeat the process in reverse.

Their nanoparticles are made of Prussian blue, which is a widely-used blue pigment, and titanium oxide, which when exposed to ultraviolet light, release electrons. Prussian blue needs to be colorless.

According to Physics.org, the technique combines the two materials in order to form solid coating on paper. The titanium oxide produces electrons, which are then picked up by the Prussian blue particles to change color from blue to clear.

Paper has become an integral part of man's life since its invention in China around 100 BC. It transformed communication by introducing a lighter medium that allowed things like literature to spread around the world. In fact, in this technologically-dependent society, a lot of people still recognize the benefits of paper.

As per a 2009 study of Bangor University and Millward Brown, paper-based information relies on emotional processing and produces more responses that are related to internal feelings. This is why a lot of people still prefer paper than digital media. This also means paper as a media will still grow in the future.

According to Scientific American, the newly developed paper can hopefully help be a part of the resolution with the coming problems with environmental and sustainability concerns that arose with the development of paper.

About 35 percent of all harvested trees in the world are used to make paper and cardboard. The pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world as it uses more water to produce products.

Production itself involves dangerous chemicals like dioxin, and secrets phosphorus that boosts plant growth and consumption of oxygen. Even post-production processes with paper damage the environment, as making ink and toner even harms the environment as well.

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