New image archival research helps preserve contents of delicate documents

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A. Sue Weisler | photographer

Ajay Pasupuleti demonstrates new technology created by NanoArk to members of RIT’s registrar’s office.

The products of research can branch off in many directions and provide a host of benefits to students, universities and the broader community. At RIT, there has long been a focus of developing research that can easily be applied to real-world problems.

The latest example is the new Rochester-based company NanoArk Corp. NanoArk is an image archival firm created by P.R. Mukund, Gleason Professor of Electrical Engineering; Roger Easton, professor of imaging science; and Ajay Pasupuleti, a graduate of RIT’s doctoral program in microsystems engineering.

Pasupuleti developed a method for storing documents on silicon wafers as a replacement for standard microfilm and microfiche technologies. This methodology is currently patent pending. He first worked with Mukund and Easton to store images they had created through a research effort involving the digitization of ancient Hindu manuscripts.

“We used the process to store the manuscript images and then transfer them back to India to be used by Hindu scholars and students,” notes Mukund. “The technology proved to be incredibly durable and much more adaptable than traditional micro fiche or film.”

The project was so successful that the trio, along with Mike Toth, who recently retired from U.S. government service, decided to form a company to develop a mass-produced version of the system, including the wafers themselves, a process for archiving the information and a reader for studying the stored documents. The resulting technology is considerably more durable than standard microfilm. The Image Permanence Institute at RIT has estimated the wafers longevity at more than 500 years. In addition, the document reader allows for searching and magnification capabilities that greatly enhance image examination.

NanoArk has obtained first-level funding from angel investors and has developed a working prototype. The company is currently in the product- development phase with the hope of offering its initial products for sale this summer. NanoArk is also working with several local companies, including Advanced Document Imaging, which provides imaging analysis for the U.S. Census Bureau, to develop additional business opportunities.

The company is currently housed in RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator and is working with the incubator staff to further develop their business plan and seek out potential clients.

“NanoArk has a very interesting product that has strong market potential,” notes Jerry Mahone, director of Venture Creations. “We are very proud of their initial success and look forward to promoting their business goals in the future.”

Mukund believes the firm’s success not only enhances the Rochester economy but also continues to provide benefits to RIT faculty and students. NanoArk has utilized a number of co-ops and interns on various projects and worked with the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the Center for Imaging Science to enhance their technology development.

Mukund also notes that the company recognizes the tremendous assistance received from so many in the RIT community and NanoArk is committed to giving back. So far, the firm has donated more than $75,000 to different research programs and plans on providing additional assistance in the future.