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December 29th, 2007
Researchers at Northeastern University have devised a way to use billionth-of-a-meter-sized disks to create codes that could be used to encrypt information, serve as biological labels, and even tag and track goods and personnel.
The nanodisks can form a physical pattern, similar in concept to a barcode, as well as a spectroscopic code, meaning it can exhibit a specific, unique response to electromagnetic radiation, or light, depending on the type of molecule (or molecules) attached to the disks—in other words, how the disks are "functionalized."
Nanostructures can be ideal for encoding. Their small size allows them to be hidden easily in a variety of materials and objects, and scientists' ability to easily tailor their physical and chemical properties makes it possible to design nanostructures for specific coding functions.
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