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Tunable solid-state fluorescent materials for supramolecular encryption

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

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Xisen Hou

Chenfeng Ke

Carson J. Bruns

Roger B. Pettman

J. Fraser Stoddart


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.


Hou, X., Ke, C., Bruns, C. J., McGonigal, P. R., Pettman, R. B., & Stoddart, J. F. (2015). Tunable solid-state fluorescent materials for supramolecular encryption. Nature Communications, 6, Article 6884.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 9, 2015
Online Publication Date Apr 22, 2015
Publication Date Apr 22, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 14, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 13, 2016
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Article Number 6884


Published Journal Article (2.8 Mb)

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