Ink laced with molecules that may retailer knowledge has been used to write down a letter containing a hidden, encoded message – the encryption key to unlock a textual content file of the novel The Fantastic Wizard of Oz



Know-how



20 July 2022

A letter that contained a secret message in the ink

Ink containing encrypted knowledge (left) was used to write down this letter (proper)

Tailored from ACS Central Science 2022

Ink containing polymers that may retailer knowledge has been used to write down a letter containing a hidden message – the encryption key to unlock a textual content file of L. Frank Baum’s The Fantastic Wizard of Oz.

Eric Anslyn on the College of Texas at Austin and his colleagues have developed a method that includes steganography – the apply of hiding one message inside one other.

The crew generated a 256-character cipher key to encrypt and decrypt information utilizing the Superior Encryption Customary (AES), a typical cryptography technique. The group then encoded the cipher key into eight oligourethanes, a kind of polymer.

“As a result of they’re a polymer with a really particular sequence, the models alongside that sequence can carry a sequence of data, similar to any sentence carries info within the sequence of letters,” says Anslyn.

Every polymer was made up of 10 smaller compounds referred to as monomers. The center eight monomers maintain the main points of the important thing, with one monomer on all sides appearing as the important thing’s synthesiser and decoder.

The crew blended the polymers with isopropanol, glycerol and soot to make an ink. Utilizing the ink, a few of the researchers wrote a letter after which despatched it to a different particular person on the crew. The group then extracted a pattern of the ink and used the cipher key to unlock an encrypted file: your entire textual content of the novel The Fantastic Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

“The concept of writing a message however the true, hidden message is contained within the molecular construction of the ink is fascinating, though perhaps not essentially the most sensible technique,” says Alan Woodward on the College of Surrey, UK.

For Anslyn, the flexibility to cover info is secondary. His principal objective is storing knowledge. The knowledge density inside molecules in polymers, which embody DNA, is increased than it might be by encoded magnetic spots on a tough disc.  “The knowledge density is mind-boggling,” he says.

Journal reference: ACS Central Science , DOI: 10.1021/10.1021/acscentsci.2c00460

Article amended on 20 July 2022

The headline and standfirst of this text have been corrected to make clear what was encoded.

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