Storing and Reading Information in Mixtures of Fluorescent Molecules

Amit A. Nagarkar, Samuel E. Root, Michael J. Fink, Alexei S. Ten, Brian J. Cafferty, Douglas S. Richardson, Milan Mrksich, George M. Whitesides*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The rapidly increasing use of digital technologies requires the rethinking of methods to store data. This work shows that digital data can be stored in mixtures of fluorescent dye molecules, which are deposited on a surface by inkjet printing, where an amide bond tethers the dye molecules to the surface. A microscope equipped with a multichannel fluorescence detector distinguishes individual dyes in the mixture. The presence or absence of these molecules in the mixture encodes binary information (i.e., "0"or "1"). The use of mixtures of molecules, instead of sequence-defined macromolecules, minimizes the time and difficulty of synthesis and eliminates the requirement of sequencing. We have written, stored, and read a total of approximately 400 kilobits (both text and images) with greater than 99% recovery of information, written at an average rate of 128 bits/s (16 bytes/s) and read at a rate of 469 bits/s (58.6 bytes/s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1728-1735
Number of pages8
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 27 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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