Invisible ink updated with magic algae

Image: Living Ink pen
Lines drawn with Living Ink’s algae pen disappear, then reappear. (Credit: Living Ink Technologies)

Remember invisible ink? You could write a secret message with the stuff, watch your words disappear, then make them magically reappear by holding the message over a heat source.

The basic idea goes back to ancient times, but now it’s been updated with a biotech twist. Colorado-based Living Ink Technologies has created a type of ink that’s “green” in more ways than one. It’s made from algae, it’s non-toxic, and it’s produced in a way that’s environmentally sustainable.

“Our mission is to displace toxic petroleum-based ink, in which our first partnership is with Aveda to make sustainable packaging ink from algae cells,” Living Ink’s co-founder and CEO, Scott Fulbright, told GeekWire in an email.

Fulbright and his fellow inventors, Steve Albers and Jeff Zdunek, are having a little fun with the invisible-ink idea. Their Kickstarter project offers an algal-based ink that’s loaded into a pen or a printer. When the ink is applied to paper, it dries to become invisible. But when the paper is placed in a clear “greenhouse” frame, the algae multiply so fast that the ink eventually reappears like the fuzz on a Chia Pet.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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