Researchers at the University of South Dakota and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology published a report this week that suggests QR codes could be used on banknotes to prevent counterfeiting.
According to the report, published in IOP Publishing’s journal Nanotechnology, the QR code “will add an increased level of security over existing counterfeit methods as the complexity of the production process makes it very difficult to replicate.
QR codes – also known as Quick Response codes – play the role of an enhanced barcode. The pattern consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. This unique pattern (different for all QR codes) is a gateway to information that is stored online and can be accessed using mobile phones.
Earlier this year, Sweden announced it would be the first country to attempt embedding QR codes on banknotes. In that particular case, the code was to be featured on the face of the banknote and – when scanned – would direct people to a mobile website where they could find information on the Royal Dutch Mint and learn how the currency was made.
The research published this week has a different idea in mind for how QR codes could be used on banknotes. Though it will still be printed on the face of the note, it could only be viewed when an infra-red light is passed over it – a process known as “upconversion.”
It is in this feature that the researchers find the most promise for including the codes on banknotes as a security measure.
“The QR code is tough to counterfeit. We can also change our parameters to make it even more difficult to counterfeit, such as controlling the intensity of the upconverting light or using inks with a higher weight percentage of nanoparticles,” said Jeevan Mergua, lead author of the study. “We can take the level of security from covert to forensic by simply adding a microscopic message in the QR code, in a different coloured upconverting ink, which then requires a microscope to read the upconverted QR code.”
According to an article published by e! Science News, the capacity these researchers have developed to print the QR are what will enhance the security even further.
“The QR code is made of tiny nanoparticles that have been combined with blue and green fluorescence ink, which is invisible until illuminated with laser light. It is generated using computer-aided design (CAD) and printed onto a surface using an aerosol jet printer,” the website reported. “The combination of the blue and green inks also enabled the researchers to experiment with a variety of characters and symbols in different colours and sizes, varying from microscopic to macroscopic.”
A video produced by the researchers explains the process further. View that video HERE