This article is part of a continuing series that looks at security features in development for the security paper industry.
It’s not a connection you can make everyday, but some leading cancer research could also prove to be an important development for the security paper industry.
Quantum dots are a discovery of nanotechnology (much like the recent research on butterfly mimicry as a security device) and are showing how the most miniscule elements are leading the way in security devices.
The tiny dots are engineered individual crystals that emit intense light and they double as semiconductors. The conducting characteristics are closely related to the size and shape of the individual crystal meaning that the smaller the crystal, the more energy is needed to “excite” the dot. Because each the crystals aren’t uniform, each dot is unique and shines a variety of colours when “excited” by something like a UV light. This is one of the predominant benefits to the quantum dots because whereas fluorescent dyes and watermarks can only display a single band, quantum dots can display a whole range of colours providing each item with a unique “barcode.”
One of the amazing things about these nanoscale dots is that they were not solely developed as a security device. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed “water-soluble” quantum dots to aid in biological research. Bright, stable, and tiny, these quantum dots “are engineered to attach themselves to particular proteins [and thus] have become a popular research tool in areas such as cancer research for detecting, labeling and tracking specific biomarkers and cells.”
Outside of the medical research, some companies have already begun the process of developing inks and paints for security and anti-counterfeiting measures that can be applied to surfaces like paper, plastic or metal. However, according to Vicki Singer, senior consultant for corporate development at Life Technologies – a California-based company that makes quantum dots – whether or not banks are interested in this technology for banknotes or other security devices is a secretive affair. Whether or not anyone is actually using quantum dots on banknotes already is even more secret.
Evident Tech: “Quantum Dot Applications”
John Mongillo: “Nanotechnology 101”
Lab Spaces: “Microwave Synthesis Connects With The Quantum Dots”
Canadian Business Magazine: “Counterfeit Cat-and-Mouse”