Self-Erasing Documents Coming Sooner Than You Think

Self-Erasing Documents Coming Sooner Than You Think

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Tired of Tom Cruise sneaking through your evil corporation's ventilation ducts and snapping photos of your nefarious W-9 forms? Research into the unique properties of certain nanoparticles may have a clever solution for you in the form of documents that erase themselves.

While the Mission: Impossible reference from which I drew my Tom Cruise allusion relied entirely on documents, audio cassettes and microfiche programmed to physically detonate alongside a timer, the technology being crafted at Northwestern University is decidedly more subtle.

By coating gold nanoparticles with "a layer of hair-like molecules called 4-(11-mercaptoundecanoxy)azobenzene," the researchers have created a hybrid material able to conform and maintain specific shapes based on its creator's commands. Not only could the researchers build long strings of words using these ambulatory particles, they were also able to alter the color of the material itself simply by shifting the concentration of nanoparticles in any one area.

"The colour of the nanoparticles depends on how close they are to one another," lead researcher Bartosz Grzybowski told New Scientist. "For instance, gold nanoparticles are red when separated, but become violet, then blue, then colourless as they cluster together."

The most useful part of this breakthrough however, is not in its ability to create shapes and colors, but in their nanoparticulate tendency to revert to a neutral form after fulfilling their goal. Only a few minutes away from the ultraviolet signal causes the nanoparticles to revert to their original shape.

With that in mind, the potential for self-destructive memos pales in comparison to the idea of hyper-miniaturized computer processor components able to alter their shape and function at a moment's notice and with a minimum of energy loss.

(Image: Paramount Pictures)

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Now we just need a form of paper that self-destructs in ten seconds; or whenever Tom Cruise holds it.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Now we just need a form of paper that self-destructs in ten seconds; or whenever Tom Cruise holds it.

So that's how it works!

maybe we just need a self destructing tom cruise...

lolmynamewastaken:
maybe we just need a self destructing tom cruise...

He's actually been doing a pretty good job of that already.

Just cool x]
I could really use this when school starts again and disolving my HW

lolmynamewastaken:
maybe we just need a self destructing tom cruise...

It sure would help the movie industry...

Radeonx:

lolmynamewastaken:
maybe we just need a self destructing tom cruise...

It sure would help the movie industry...

and the rest of the world?

lolmynamewastaken:
maybe we just need a self destructing tom cruise...

no need, scientology will do that for us at one point or another.

lolmynamewastaken:
maybe we just need a self destructing tom cruise...

Booyakacha!

Ahem...the story is badass, also.

I want me one of those processors, what better way to disguise my porn habit?

well crawling through air ducts is hollywood make believe , i'm surprised that there's not dust bunnies on his black outfit , and try crawling through a metal air duct quietly even if it was padded the duct work would not hold his weight , this is from a mech tech who also does building maintenance as part of my job

on second thought if these world dominators would kill these spy bastards instead of keeping them the problem would be pointless either that or just keep their plans in their heads and not written down in any format

I read that, and all I can think of now is OH MY GOD.

OH MY GOD

Science is scary sometimes....

That's mind-bogglingly cool, and could definitely be seen as useful for maintaining security.

At a work conference I was at last month, there's huge money right now in software that redacts private information on public and work documents. Essentially, the software is insanely intuitive and can identify and pull text and hand-writing of any document that may have sensitive materials that could result in identity theft. It sets different parameters and can find and redact social security numbers, bank routing numbers, insurance groups, etc.

I'm going to go with what XDUCK said--if you don't want people reading something, don't write it down.

Otherwise, this sounds like a neat trick. I can only imagine magicians making good use of it.

Didn't they used to have discs that would black themselves out after a day or so and that was supposed to replace DVD rentals? I doubt this will really catch on much for public use.

 

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