Stealth Mark Licenses Oak Ridge Laboratory's Anti-Counterfeiting Technology

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Product authentication technology provider Stealth Mark has exclusively licensed an invisible microtaggant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to fight counterfeiting.

The anti-counterfeiting technology features a materials coding system that uses an IR marker for identification. The innovation of the taggant, which acts like a fingerprint with a unique encoded sequence or pattern, began in 2005 when ORNL researchers Glenn Allgood and principal investigator Linda Lewis teamed with Robert Smithwick III of the Y-12 National Security Complex to develop a cost-effective fluorescent dye system.

ORNL's taggant can potentially identify the many counterfeit goods seen in business and commerce. The taggant's IR position on the light spectrum makes it invisible. Other similar products use UV light, which degrades the taggant over time.

"This marker is an anti-counterfeiting material for use with a target market of high-value, high-liability, and high-security needs,” said Rick Howard, CEO of Stealth Mark. “We will target this product to authenticate materials such as art, currency, and other items whose value is based on its authenticity. An example is a signed baseball, which is only worth a few dollars unless it's authentic. It will also help with items that pose a physical threat, like airplane parts, where safety relies on authenticity. Our two target markets to implement this technology are textiles and currency.”

Through the licensing agreement, Stealth Mark will use ORNL's advanced invisible microtaggant technology, Formula C2-4:18, to bolster its anti-counterfeiting efforts through the marking system. The formula is a permanent mark that requires a specific illumination to activate the desired spectral emission. The invisible taggant can be read by a hand-held detector or scanner that displays the taggant as a fluorescent marking. The device then recognizes the unique barcode and data revealed by the taggant, and the information can be integrated with existing databases and systems. Stealth Mark is pursuing a commercial license for the technology.

"It's exciting to develop a technology that will actually carry forward in the commercial marketplace and be used for applications like preventing counterfeiting," Lewis said.

By generating a unique coding system, the taggant can identify the item's source, type, production, and composition. This technology can be specifically implemented in textiles by coating threads with the invisible taggant before weaving. A microcode allows for tagging without damaging soft fabrics.

The technology consists of four parts: a tag composition that is invisible in the visible light spectrum and emits nonvisible fluorescent light, a binder that adheres the tag to the material's surface, the solvent used to dissolve the tag and binder, and a solar protectant that hinders degradation of the tag. The taggant can be implemented in markings on almost any good, from invisible stamps on basketballs to invisible codes on currency, giving it a wide range of uses witha low production cost per taggant.

"This taggant technology is complementary to the market areas we want to serve," Howard said. “We are thankful to ORNL for their openness to us, and they have been great to work with us to meet this technology need.”

Stealth Mark is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wellness Center USA Inc. Stealth Mark strives to eliminate counterfeiting activities through accurate identification and authentication of products. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a U.S. science and technology national laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Published: August 2018
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