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Nat Mater. 2014 May;13(5):524-9. doi: 10.1038/nmat3938. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Universal process-inert encoding architecture for polymer microparticles.

Author information

1
1] Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA [2].
2
1] Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA [2] Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Massachusetts 02420, USA [3].
3
Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
4
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Massachusetts 02420, USA.

Abstract

Polymer microparticles with unique, decodable identities are versatile information carriers with a small footprint. Widespread incorporation into industrial processes, however, is limited by a trade-off between encoding density, scalability and decoding robustness in diverse physicochemical environments. Here, we report an encoding strategy that combines spatial patterning with rare-earth upconversion nanocrystals, single-wavelength near-infrared excitation and portable CCD (charge-coupled device)-based decoding to distinguish particles synthesized by means of flow lithography. This architecture exhibits large, exponentially scalable encoding capacities (>10(6) particles), an ultralow decoding false-alarm rate (<10(-9)), the ability to manipulate particles by applying magnetic fields, and pronounced insensitivity to both particle chemistry and harsh processing conditions. We demonstrate quantitative agreement between observed and predicted decoding for a range of practical applications with orthogonal requirements, including covert multiparticle barcoding of pharmaceutical packaging (refractive-index matching), multiplexed microRNA detection (biocompatibility) and embedded labelling of high-temperature-cast objects (temperature resistance).

PMID:
24728464
DOI:
10.1038/nmat3938
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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