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IEEE Trans Nanobioscience. 2003 Mar;2(1):1-5.

Biomolecular optical data storage and data encryption.

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Institute of Physical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Marburg, D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


The use of bacteriorhodopsin (BR) as an active layer in write-once-read-many optical storage is presented. This novel feature of BR materials may be used on a wide variety of substrates, among them transparent substrates but also paper and plastics. The physical basis of the recording process is polarization-sensitive two-photon absorption. As an example for this new BR application, an identification card equipped with an optical recording strip is presented, which has a capacity of about 1 MB of data. The recording density currently used is 125 kB/cm2, which is far from the optical limits but allows operation with cheap terminals using plastic optics. In the examples given, data are stored in blocks of 10 kB each. A special optical encryption procedure allows the stored data to be protected from unauthorized reading. The molecular basis of this property is again the polarization-sensitive recording mechanism. The unique combination of optical storage, photochromism, and traceability of the BR material is combined on the single-molecule level. BR introduces a new quality of storage capability for applications with increased security and anticounterfeiting requirements.

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