Farsad used these particular chemicals because they’re easily obtainable, and because they cancel out at the receiving end of the system.


The potential for this system is limited only by the imagination. Scenarios proposed by the researchers include sending secret messages that others aren’t aware of, having robots message each other with chemical trails, or even substituting for conventional communications in the the event that the electric grid (or an electronic device) is knocked out by an electromagnetic pulse or terrorist attack. Excitingly, the system could even be adapted to work in the human body, in which nanobots could communicate with other tiny machines via liquid text.

This concept is still very much in its early stages, and several limitations still need to be sorted out, including finding ways to transmit the signals over longer distances, figuring out how to separate the signal from the noise at the end of the system (residue is a problem), and ways to power the system.

Here’s to hoping that Farsad and Goldsmith solve these issues—this idea is simply too cool to be allowed to die on the vine.

[Stanford University]