Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:24

Swinburne scientists use gold nanorods to boost optical storage capacity and security

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Swinburne University of Technology researchers have developed a technique that uses nanotechnology to increase the storage capacity of optical discs and encrypt the data they carry.

Professor Min Gu and Dr Xiangping Li of Swinburne University, along with a visiting PhD student from Taiwan's National Chiao Tung University, have found a way of using gold nanorods as a coating on DVDs.

As the light beam is polarised in different directions, it is reflected by different subsets of the nanorods. Different light frequencies (colours) can also be used.

"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," said Professor Gu.

"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."

In addition to increasing storage density (the length of a gold nanorod is 1/500th of the thickness of a human hair), the technique provides a new way of encrypting the data.

The technology is said to have medical applications in the use of lasers to destroy cancer cells.

The research was funded by the Australian Research Council.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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