Ending Counterfeit Goods?


By: Katie Chong

Image result for atomic fingerprint

Counterfeiting has evolved to a point where it is extremely difficult to tell fake from authentic goods. However, physicists at Lancaster University have developed a way to stamp products with “atomic fingerprints” to prevent counterfeiting from getting out of hand. The unique pattern is created by intentionally fabricating flaws into an atom-thin layer of material, such as graphene oxide. According to researchers, removing a carbon atom, adding extra oxygen atoms, or creating a ridge of atoms are examples of flaws. Once the flaw is set, the material is incorporated into an ink and using an inkjet printer, printed onto a hologram which can be added as a label to any product. To confirm the authenticity of the atomic pattern, a simple smart phone camera and its built-in flash is used to photograph the label. Light excites the atoms, which produce a unique color based on the pattern. The pattern is then analyzed by an app which can instantly analyze the image and confirm whether the label is authentic or not.


This development encompasses both fundamental physics and basic engineering to solve challenges.