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Digitally Encoded Polymers...

Inspired by the capacity of DNA to retain an enormous amount of genetic information, a team of French researchers from the L`Institut Charles Sadron UdB, de Strasburg (CNRS) and the Aix Marseille Universitẻ synthesized and read a multi-bit message on an artificial polymer.  The researchers used three monomers to create the binary code.  Two of the monomers represent the binary codes 0 and 1, and can be used interchangeably during synthesis.  The third nitroxide monomer was inserted between the bits in order to facilitate the writing and reading of the coded sequence.

Currently the short binary message is synthesized by hand, monomer by monomer on a growing chain, but should be quicker once automated.  A mass spectrometer is used to decipher the information.  This process currently takes up to five minutes—a duration also destined to be reduced in the short term.

The team hopes to be able to store messages of a few kilobytes or even megabytes within 3 – 5 years and to develop molecular bar codes in the short term.  The technology could be used to provide labeling that would be extremely difficult to falsify, making it ideal for high value-added products such a luxury goods and medicines.

 

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