Skip to Content

Mixing Darks with Lights

Because most recycling centers don’t accept dark-colored plastics, more than four billion kilograms of car bumpers, cell phones and other materials clog U.S. landfills each year. Black plastic could easily be recycled. The problem: the polymers used in different plastics are incompatible, and melting them together yields an unusable glop. But the conventional plastic-identification method of analyzing reflected laser light doesn’t work well with black plastic, which chars under the bright beam.

SpectraCode of West Lafayette, IN, may have solved the problem. The key is a laser beam that hops around. The beam can be bright enough to produce an identifying signal rapidly; by dancing from point to point roughly every tenth of a second, it never dwells on one spot long enough to burn it. SpectraCode CEO Edward Grant expects the probe to be used in commercial products by early 2002.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.