A unique method of data encryption for secure electronic data storage has been demonstrated by researchers at Swinburne University in Australia. They have developed a new approach to aiming a laser beam which will allow for increased data storage capability, as well as the ability to encrypt information on DVDs coated with gold nanorods.
“As technology evolves, the need for secure electronic data storage becomes more and more acute,” Professor Min Gu, one of the researchers, said. “Our research shows that encryption coding could be applied to gold nanorods lying in any plane on the recorded material.”
Conventional electronic data storage techniques use three physical dimensions. Other methods for recording information use polarisation and the colour spectrum; both use nanotechnology in which Swinburne is a world leader.
“If you look at a recorded disc under a microscope you will see tiny dots. These dots store information or data that is read by the laser in a CD player or DVD player. Previously this information could only be read in a flat plane,” Dr. Xiangping Li of Swinburne University said.
In the demonstration, different wavelengths of light were projected onto tiny gold nanorods in the disc to record and read data on the material.
Nanorods are particles so minute that 500 of them end-to-end could fit the width of a human hair. They have been used in a wide range of applications because of their unique optical and photothermal properties and can be tuned to a specific light frequency.
The polarisation method employs the electric field in each light wave. When light waves are projected onto the material, the direction of the electric field lines up certain particles in the optical material, allowing data to be stored on them.
When the direction of the incoming light wave is altered, the changing electric field will align a dissimilar set of particles. Many light waves of different polarizations will bring about optical data being stored in every particle.
“Instead of having a beam in a straight plane (a vector), the team has been able to make that beam rotated on any plane, with infinite control so now they can make that beam polarised in any direction and then they can tune the light frequency,” Gu said.
“The new technique creates a truly unique way of aiming a beam of light so that it only reacts to very specific sets of particles.”
The research also could also help develop means for attacking cancer cells with ultra-high medical safety. The gold nanorods may be triggered by a laser beam to punch holes in the membranes of tumour cells and halt cancerous growth.