Thursday, March 15, 2012

Going Green with a Green Laser



For years we've been at recycling.  Both because it is better for the environment and also because of patient  privacy dictated here in the USA by the HIPPA laws.


However, what if you could be green and remove all private data in one operation?  It doesn't mean recycling the paper into new clean sheets,… it involves removing the existing ink and re-creating a pristine  piece of paper from one that has already been printed.


Sound amazing?  It is, but it's not impossible… matter of fact it's already being done.


We've all seen the   cool green colored laser pointers that a lot of people (me included) are using in lectures.  Heck, mine is 40X more powerful than most of the ones other people are using.  These green lasers are really bright and really cool, but most people don't realize they have another function… oh but they do!


It seems that some really smart people at the University of Cambridge in the UK have been tinkering with these lasers.  My 200mw model will actually ignite a match and cause black ink to smoke on a business card.  In fact, if you've ever see a demo for  medical grade diode or Nd:YAG laser, you've probably seen what I call the "business card trick".  Both diodes and Nd;YAG laser wavelengths are attracted to dark colors and frequently a salesman will use the laser to burn the dark ink off their business card while leaving the white paper of their card undamaged.  This can show how gentle and specific the laser is, but it also shows how lasers can  help us go green.


It seems these bright minds at Cambridge have developed a way to use a green laser (wavelength of 532 nanometers) to vaporize the ink off of printed pages and leave the paper untouched so that it can be used again.


The green laser is absorbed by the toner which then super heats and is vaporized without damaging the  paper.  Pretty slick if  you ask me and if they can get a device to do the ink removal at a very favorable  price, we could be resizing paper without even going to the store!  Interested?  I hope so.


Here is a link with all the details.

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