Korean researchers have developed artificial micro fingerprints that are fundamentally non-duplicable.
A research team led by Prof. Kwon Sung-hoon of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Seoul National University and Prof. Park Wook of the Electronics and Radio-engineering Department at Kyunghee University announced on March 24 that they developed tiny, non-duplicable fingerprint patterns at the size of tenths or hundredths of a millimeter.
Micro identifiers have been used already, mostly by putting them on the product surface or mixing them with the ingredients to make the product, in order to prevent counterfeiting. However, existing micro identifiers have predictable barcode-like identifying marks, which makes them easy to duplicate.
In order to address this problem, a new anti-forgery technology, which used an inherent property of objects as its code, was also developed. However, it was difficult to decode and hard to use in some kinds of products. Also, it was difficult to make different identifiers fit for the purpose, since they couldn’t control its code as they wanted.
Accordingly, the research team developed artificial micro fingerprints, a mark in the shape of a human fingerprint, to effectively prevent counterfeiting. It is non-duplicable and its code can be easily controlled.
The research team made non-duplicable micro fingerprint patterns by using a substance that contracts when it dries. The code is created when a silica-coated high molecule material called Polyethylene (glycol) Diacrylate (PEGDA) dries slowly, coming out wrinkled.
Since each artificial fingerprint has an unpredictable pattern in the process of wrinkle formation, it is impossible to counterfeit.
The research team also developed a method of controlling the wrinkles using the property of polymer particles. Accordingly, the team succeeded in not only maintaining the randomness of patterns but also freely controlling the number of minutia per unit area, which plays a crucial role in security.
The team explained that the artificial fingerprint can be read with conventional fingerprint readers, high-resolution microscopes, and smartphones, meaning that it is very practical for today's world.
Prof. Park Wook said, “The artificial fingerprint can be used widely, including in bills, medicines, and expensive valuables, and fundamentally root out counterfeiting. When the fingerprint patterns can be analyzed with simpler optical devices, it will be possible to be commercialized within three years.”
The result will be published as the cover story of the March 25 edition of Advanced Materials, a weekly science journal.