Tunable solid-state fluorescent materials for supramolecular encryption

Xisen Hou, Chenfeng Ke, Carson J. Bruns, Paul R. McGonigal, Roger B. Pettman, J. Fraser Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

359 Scopus citations


Tunable solid-state fluorescent materials are ideal for applications in security printing technologies. A document possesses a high level of security if its encrypted information can be authenticated without being decoded, while also being resistant to counterfeiting. Herein, we describe a heterorotaxane with tunable solid-state fluorescent emissions enabled through reversible manipulation of its aggregation by supramolecular encapsulation. The dynamic nature of this fluorescent material is based on a complex set of equilibria, whose fluorescence output depends non-linearly on the chemical inputs and the composition of the paper. By applying this system in fluorescent security inks, the information encoded in polychromic images can be protected in such a way that it is close to impossible to reverse engineer, as well as being easy to verify. This system constitutes a unique application of responsive complex equilibria in the form of a cryptographic algorithm that protects valuable information printed using tunable solid-state fluorescent materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6884
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Apr 22 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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