The University of California, Riverside has just announced another contender in the increasingly competitive rewritable paper technology stakes to rival Eink displays and other reprintable/rewritable/changeable solid-state reading solutions currently in production or under development. According to the announcement:

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have now fabricated in the lab just such a rewritable paper, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes. The dye forms the imaging layer of the paper.  Printing is achieved by using ultraviolet light to photobleach the dye, except the portions that constitute the text on the paper.  The new rewritable paper can be erased and written on more than 20 times with no significant loss in contrast or resolution.

The team who developed the technology, under Yadong Yin, professor of chemistry, are keen to stress the environmental benefits, as “it represents an attractive alternative to regular paper in meeting the increasing global needs for sustainability and environmental conservation,” but most interesting aspect of this so far, at least as per the image released with the announcement from the Yin Lab at UC Riverside,  seems to be the possibility of high-resolution see-through or at least semi-transparent ereader screens and displays. Currently, the substrate for the text is plastic film, whether opaque or clear, but the team is apparently working on a fully rewritable paper-based version. Further possibilities include “rewritable paper capable of showing prints of different colors.”

Given the number of different solutions now in the game for solidly readable rewritable digital text, it remains to be seen what this new development has to offer that is truly unique, but it certainly looks good and interesting, and the commercial possibilities are obvious – if no one else gets there first.

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Paul St John Mackintosh is a British poet, writer of dark fiction, and media pro with a love of e-reading. His gadgets range from a $50 Kindle Fire to his trusty Vodafone Smart Grand 6. Paul was educated at public school and Trinity College, Cambridge, but modern technology saved him from the Hugh Grant trap. His acclaimed first poetry collection, The Golden Age, was published in 1997, and reissued on Kindle in 2013, and his second poetry collection, The Musical Box of Wonders, was published in 2011.


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