Scientists in Saudi Arabia have created banknotes containing radio frequency identification (RFID) to prevent counterfeiting.
In the world of specialty paper, RFID tags or chips are typically associated with electronic passports. Containing a carrier’s biometric information, the RFID chips facilitate faster and more secure passage at border crossings.
Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) say banknotes outfitted with RFID tags represent the next wave in secure banknote technology.
“Current anti-counterfeiting measures are limited to features like holograms, fluorescent inks, special threads, watermarks, raised printing, etc,” says lead researcher Husam Alshareef. “But most of these features can be replicated. The next generation of security features has to have some sort of electronic circuitry such as RFID tags.”
The biggest challenge for Alshareef and his team was figuring out how to incorporate the solid RFIDs into the flexible surface of a banknote.
To solve this problem, the KAUST research team created an RFID tag based on ferroelectric organic polymers, which possess high polarization that is reversed when an external field is applied to create the on/off switch. Both tags were built up on a smooth layer of polydimethylsiloxane that covers the rough banknote surface and absorbs bending movements to protect the RFID layers above from strain, according an article published by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
Alshareef says despite these advancements, a major challenge remains that “RFIDs cannot be incorporated into the ink used to print banknotes because the devices need to be patterned and produced individually.”
George Whitesides, a researcher who works on paper-based microfluid devices at Harvard University, says the physical wear and tear on paper indeed makes a project like this difficult but is confident the outcomes could prove to be a step in the right direction for banknote security.
‘The development of a new method of putting ferromagnetic elements on paper is certainly interesting and has the potential to be used in a number of memory applications and anti-counterfeiting schemes,’ he told the RSC.