Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Long Fuse

17.06.2010
Communication through chemistry: “Fuses” convey information for hours

We currently transmit information electronically; in the future we will most likely use photons. However, these are not the only alternatives. Information can also be transmitted by means of chemical reactions.

George M. Whitesides and his colleagues at Harvard University in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA) have now developed a concept that allows transmission of alphanumeric information in the form of light pulses with no electricity: the “infofuse”. As the researchers report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, it may be possible to use this principle to develop systems that function under conditions in which electronics or batteries do not work.

The researchers previously developed an infofuse made of nitrocellulose strips. The strips were covered with patterns of dots made of salts of the elements lithium, rubidium, and cesium. When the strip is ignited, the flame travels forward and reaches the dots one after the other. The heat causes the elements to emit light at characteristic wavelengths. The dots may contain combinations of three different salts, resulting in seven possible combinations. A combination of two dots thus allows for 7x7 = 49 different signals.

The problem was that the flame tended to go out. This can be avoided by using a different material as substrate that does not conduct heat away as efficiently, such as fiberglass. Alternatively, the strips can be placed over a “trench” or crimped, so that they no longer lie flat on the surface. This allows for less heat transfer to the substrate.

Another problem with the older system was that the flame front progressed far too quickly, allowing for only short transmission times. Nitrocellulose strips burn at a rate of several centimeters a second. Says Whitesides, “a fuse length of 2.6 km would be required to transmit for 24 hours.” The solution was a dual speed arrangement. Branches of the fast-burning infofuse are attached to a slow-burning central fuse. The distance between branches can be varied as needed, and the flame front progresses at only 1 to 2 m per second. This allows information to be repeated several times or different information to be transmitted periodically.

A color camera or fiber optic cable coupled to a spectrometer could receive the signal over a distance of 30 m in daylight. “We hope that it will be possible to develop a light, portable, non-electric system of information transmission that can be integrated into modern information technology,” says Whitesides. “For example, it could be used to gather and transmit environmental data or to send messages by emergency services.”

Author: George M. Whitesides, Harvard University, Cambridge (USA), http://gmwgroup.harvard.edu/contact.html

Title: Long-Duration Transmission of Information with Infofuses

Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2010, 49, No. 27, 4571–4575, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201001582

George M. Whitesides | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://gmwgroup.harvard.edu/contact.html
http://pressroom.angewandte.org
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201001582

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>