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Xerox lauded for erasable paper


Xerox's erasable paper has been hailed as one of Time Magazine's Inventions of the Year, for its contribution to the environment. 

The paper, developed at Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC), contains a material that changes colour when exposed to light, so any ext on it disappears in 24 hours, making the sheet reusable.
It was acknowledged by Time as one of the best inventions of the year in the "environment" category in its new listing of the top discoveries.  Time wrote under the heading, "Without a Trace": "Did you hear the joke about the paperless office? Now that we've laid that myth to rest, scientist Paul Smith at Xerox Research Centre of Canada has made a real breakthrough with Erasable Paper. The paper is embedded with a material that changes color when exposed to light and is projected onto it by an inkless printer. The text disappears in 24 hours, so you can reuse the sheet."
Rob Abraham, MD of Bytes Document Solutions, the sole distributor of Xerox in 24 sub-Saharan countries, comments: "The invention of erasable paper is in line with Xerox's commitment to innovation and the environment.
"On the one hand, this paper will provide customers with an opportunity to make a contribution to the planet. On the other hand, it gives Xerox and its distributors and concessionaires a significant competitive advantage, as no one else in the world has this technology.
"Xerox estimates that up to two out of every five pages printed in the office are for daily use, having been printed for a single viewing," adds Abraham. "Despite our reliance on computers to share and process information, there is still a strong dependence on the printed page for reading and absorbing content. Of course we would all like to use less paper, but many people still prefer to work with information in the traditional format.
"Self-erasing documents for short-term use offer the best of both worlds and could some day replace printed pages that are used for just a brief time before being discarded, thus leading to a significant reduction in paper use."
To develop erasable paper, Xerox researchers needed to identify ways to create temporary images. This was achieved by developing compounds that change colour when they absorb a certain wavelength of light and then gradually disappear.
While scientists at XRCC continue to work on the chemistry of the technology, their counterparts at Palo Alto Research Centre are investigating ways to build a device that can print the image onto the special paper. The completed prototype achieves this 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.
"While potential users have shown interest in transient documents, there is still much to be done if the technology is to be commercialised," Abraham says. "Temporary documents are part of Xerox's ongoing investments in sustainable innovation or green products that deliver measurable benefits to the environment. Other such innovations include solid ink printing technology, which generates 90% less waste than comparable laser printers; more energy-efficient printers, copiers and multifunction devices; and other paper-saving innovations."
The best overall invention of the year, according to the news magazine, is the iPhone.