CE09 - Nanomatériaux et nanotechnologies pour les produits du futur

Programmed assembly of digitally encoded colloids from patchy nanoparticles – POESY

Submission summary

An adult living in today’s industrialized countries is confronted with dozens of microchips a day, in the form of everyday life objects, such as phones, glasses, domestic appliances. We are experiencing what we can call a real "digital invasion", a phenomenon that goes to accentuate in the coming years by the massive introduction of new computer systems at home or in our workplaces. The majority of these systems are able to communicate through dense information networks. Some of them are mobile, integrated or not within “smart materials”, and others can function in an adaptive and coherent way. They all require more and more information storage, switchable memory elements and parallel computation. This technological evolution thus precipitates fundamental changes in methods for fabricating computers, and in our view of computation itself. Among the different alternative calculation methods designed for massively parallel systems, a new paradigm called amorphous computing emerged almost two decades ago. Its fundamental concept is to have a vast numbers of computational entities, which communicate locally and combine to carry out a specified global task, similarly to a swarm of bees, which cooperates to construct a hive. An amorphous computer system is therefore composed of irregularly placed, asynchronous, locally interacting computing elements. It has recently been proposed that a system of reconfigurable colloidal particles, called “digital colloids”, is a natural candidate for such an amorphous computing system.

In this context, the first objective of the POESY project is to synthesize large quantities of chiral digital colloids through the self-assembly of fluorescent patchy nanoparticles of different types, regioselectively functionalized with complementary DNA strands. The bottleneck of the kinetics of the assembly process will be particularly addressed by using a combination of state-of-the-art analysis techniques. The second very challenging goal of this proposal is to control the switching of the colloids between two different configurations, which is mandatory to perform computations with the synthesized encoded colloids. To do this, an optical microscope capable of imaging in super-3D resolution for 4 different colors will be developed to read the information recorded at the nanoscale in the fluorescent chiral colloids.

The chiral colloids synthesized in the POESY project should thus have the particular feature of being able to store massive amounts of information in an easily transported fluid medium (up to one terabyte per milliliter). This could be a promising alternative to existing storage systems. In addition, counterfeiting is a steadily increasing plague that now extends to everyday consumer goods, and new solutions to tackle this emerging threat must be proposed. In this context, a well defined population of digital colloids could be incorporated in a large variety of substances as a “bar code” to uniquely identify the sample’s origin.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LP2N Laboratoire Photonique Numérique et Nanosciences - LP2N

Help of the ANR 407,314 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2019 - 42 Months

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