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Computer Science Program presents

Infochemistry: Transmitting Chemically Encoded Messages Over Long Distances

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

[Infochemistry: Transmitting Chemically Encoded Messages Over Long Distances]
A lecture by
Chris LaFratta
Chemistry Program, Bard College

In an effort to explore the interface between chemistry and information science, we have constructed a system to send a message that is powered by a combustion reaction. Our system uses the thermal excitation of alkali metals to transmit an encoded signal over long distances. A message is transmitted either through the burning of methanol-soaked cotton string or a fuse that is embedded with combinations of potassium, rubidium, and/or cesium ions. By measuring the intensity at the characteristic emission wavelength of each metal in the near IR, unique signals can be distinguished. We have detected these signals from 1 km away, and the signal is detectable for tens of minutes. Potential applications of this platform include covert messaging for defense applications or remote self-powered environmental sensors. This work, which seeks to encode and transmit information using chemistry instead of electronics, is part of the new field of “infochemistry”.

Location: RKC 100