Light shining on the item to be copied is reflected off a mirror, through a lens, and off a second …—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Image-forming process that relies on a photoconductive substance whose electrical resistance decreases when light falls on it. Xerography is the basis of the most widely used document-copying machines (see photocopier). The process was invented in the 1930s by U.S. physicist Chester F. Carlson (1906–1968) and developed in the 1940s and '50s by Xerox Corp. (then called Haloid). Light passing through or reflected from a document reaches a selenium-coated drum surface onto which negatively charged particles of ink (toner) are sprayed, forming an image of the document on the drum. As a sheet of paper is passed close to the drum, a positive electric charge under the sheet attracts the negatively charged ink particles, transferring the image to the copy paper. Heat briefly applied fuses the ink particles to the paper. The first commercially successful xerographic copier was introduced in 1959.

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