Using a needle-loaded printer, metallic paper, and a “little” ingenuity, researchers at a U.S. university have created an ink-free printing method.
The catch, however, is the specialized printer created by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology can only print on a microscopic scale. Published in Scientific Reports journal last month, the university team explained the new printing method accompanied by colour photos of the University logo.
The process uses specially engineered paper which contains different ultra thin layers of metal. The paper is then perforated with microscopic holes of various sizes to produce different colour effects when light shines through. The image the researchers produced was 50 micrometers in size (about twenty times smaller than a period in this article) and is invisible to the human eye; it is best viewed with a microscope. By controlling the size and depth of the holes, researchers were able to produce a variety of colours, and because of the light absorption and reflection properties of the silica/silver printing surface, they were able to produce high-resolution images, even in this microscopic form.
While this printing model will not replace traditional ink and paper, the technology used may have implications in manufacturing computer equipment, data storage, and maybe even security identification.