Printer Friendly

Roughing up counterfeiters .

A credit card or sheet of paper might look smooth, but under a microscope, these surfaces teem with ridges, pits, and other irregularities. Now, researchers in England have devised a way to translate those random artifacts of manufacturing into unique identification codes. Such codes are difficult, if not impossible, to forge, the developers claim.

Russell P. Cowburn of Imperial College London and his colleagues describe their authentication scheme in the July 28 Nature. A London-based start-up company, to which some of the researchers have financial ties, is already manufacturing a laser-based coding system that applies the new strategy.

The system creates a code by measuring light scattered from a narrow strip of a paper or plastic surface illuminated by a laser beam. The measurements are sensitive to topographic features in the strip as small as hundreds of nanometers high, the researchers say. As the system detects variations in light intensity, it assigns to them 1s or 0s, depending on whether they are brighter or dimmer, respectively, than average for the surface. The result is a binary code identifying the surface.

Even after the researchers crumpled, soaked, baked, or scrubbed scanned pieces of paper, their codes remained readable.

To foil counterfeiting, a pharmaceutical firm might scan and record every package it ships, Cowburn says. Government agencies might scan passports or paper money.

Ravikanth S. Pappu of the Cambridge, Mass.-based company ThingMagic says that the new report validates earlier investigations into using physical features of objects to generate identification codes (SN: 10/5/02, p. 221). That's "an idea whose time has come," he says.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:TECHNOLOGY
Author:Weiss, Peter Ulrich
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 20, 2005
Words:264
Previous Article:Big sky.
Next Article:Tracking busy genes to get at cancer.
Topics:


Related Articles
Aristokraft's rough mill of the future.
Funny Money.
Counterfeit ink: bogus ink and toner cartridges pose high risk for Latin American businesses and consumers.
United States unveils new $50 note.
Dangerous Doses: How Counterfeiters Are Contaminating America's Drug Supply.
Dangerous Doses.
Countering the counterfeiters.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters