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Butterfly Inspires Banknote Authentication Tech

Photonics.com
Oct 2011
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, Oct. 4, 2011 — Inspired by the wings of the morpho butterfly, Nanotech Security Corp. (NTS), in collaboration with Simon Fraser University, has created the world’s first anti-counterfeiting master die.

The new master die, also known as master shim, can be used to reproduce nanoholes in a variety of materials — including banknotes — in large volumes, quickly and cost-effectively, without changing the manufacturing process.


A morpho butterfly. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

“How this works is [the] microscopic gratings composed of nanostructures interact with light to produce the shimmering iridescence seen on the morpho butterfly. The nanostructures act to reflect and refract lightwaves to produce the morpho’s signature blue wings and absorb other unwanted light,” stated a press release issued in January regarding the technology.

Because it requires highly specialized equipment in the tens of millions of dollars, patented algorithms and extensive scientific expertise to replicate the unique nanostructures, the company said its nano-optic technology is more secure than current authentication features such as watermarks and holograms, both of which can be forged using readily available printing equipment.


Clint Landrock, chief technology officer for NTS, shows a prototype banknote. (Image: Nanotech Security Corp.)

“Proving that our technology can be re-created successfully with the use of a master shim was a crucial step in making it available for commercial use to our potential partners,” said Doug Blakeway, CEO of NTS. “This milestone makes our technology accessible and affordable to banknote manufacturers, while allowing them to maintain the highest level of security they require.”

This shim is fully customizable using a technique called QuickShift. NTS can control and specify what colors are created when the angle of view is changed along with its ability to replicate images.

The company’s master shim is customizable in size from microns to centimeters. On the shim stand tens to hundreds of millions of nanoscale pillars, and from this master, multiple shims can be manufactured. By imprinting these shims into a material, the pillars emboss a grid of nanoscale holes that trap light and release color.


A master shim in silicon. (Image: Nanotech Security Corp.)

The company has replicated the features of the master stamp on banknote-grade polypropylene, polyethylene and acetates.

In Canada alone, businesses lose an estimated half-billion dollars a year from counterfeiting. Counterfeiting has been described by the FBI as the crime of the 21st century. According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition Inc., a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization, counterfeiting is a $600 billion a year problem worldwide, with US businesses alone suffering up to $250 billion in unnecessary costs each year.

NTS has had ongoing discussions with numerous third parties; it has now been asked to produce master shims for commercial trials by a number of those parties.

For more information, visit: www.nanosecurity.ca


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