NEWS: The END of Counterfeiting with Quantum Technology

19-07-2017

An article in Securing Industry claims new quantum technology from a British university will "make counterfeiting impossible". Developed by Lancaster University, the atomic-scale tech uses the two-dimensional material graphene to generate a unique identity tag that can be scanned by a smartphone.

Researchers, who exhibited the technology at the Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition, say they believe a future without fakes is entirely possible through the use of quantum physics. "This has the potential to eradicate product counterfeiting and forgery of digital identities, two of the costliest crimes in the world today," said a news release.

The tag is based on the irregularities that are present in graphene, which is a 2D, one-atom thick hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms that is 200 times stronger than steel. At the atomic level, these irregularities are unique, which allows for a 'fingerprint' to be generated as an identity tag. These irregularities, like a small change in the structure of an atom, are virtually impossible to replicate, meaning counterfeiters would struggle in their trade.

The quantum ID (Q-ID) tag can then be read by optical technology via a smartphone app, which the team from the University and spin-out company Quantum Base have recently patented. When light from the smartphone is shone on the Q-ID the pattern of colours emitted corresponds to the unique arrangement of atoms in the 2D material. The app, which is linked to manufacturers' data, determines whether a product is real or fake by matching the 2D tag fingerprint with information from the manufacturer.

The technology can be fitted and used on any surface or any product as a means to ensure its authenticity, the researchers said, including an edible version for pharmaceuticals. There is also the ability to turn off the tag should the product be reported lost or stolen.

Each tag is cheap to produce, making producing a clone as difficult as possible and with the widespread use of smartphones growing, the easy use of the technology by the public could make counterfeiting a "thing of the past", they claim.

The technology is expected to be available for commercial use in the first half of 2018.