Catching A Thief With Nanopillar Security | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 92 Issue 32 | p. 24 | Concentrates
Issue Date: August 11, 2014 | Web Date: August 12, 2014

Catching A Thief With Nanopillar Security

When fogged by a person’s breath, nanopatterned films unveil hidden images that could guard products against counterfeiters
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Nano SCENE
Keywords: nanopillars, counterfeit drugs, polyurethane, arrays, security, breath
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The moisture in grad student Terry Shyu’s breath unveils the hidden word “nano” on a nanopillar-based film.
Credit: Joseph Xu/U of Michigan Engineering
Photo shows a student’s breath fogging a transparent sheet, revealing the hidden word “nano” as moisture collects on the sheet’s nanopillar coating.
 
The moisture in grad student Terry Shyu’s breath unveils the hidden word “nano” on a nanopillar-based film.
Credit: Joseph Xu/U of Michigan Engineering

To protect intellectual property, drugmakers often add holograms or other security tags to a medicine’s packaging. The problem is, counterfeiters are smart: Over time, the criminals figure out how to produce replicas of the tags. Security labels “need to provide a greater degree of protection and be difficult to produce in low-tech environments,” says Nicholas A. Kotov of the University of Michigan. Along with Seok Jae Lee of Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology and coworkers, Kotov has now produced and patented an anticounterfeit tag that becomes visible when fogged by a person’s breath (Adv. Mater. 2014, DOI: 10.1002/adma.201401246). To produce the tag, the researchers first pour an optimized mixture of polyurethane and the light-activated adhesive NOA63 into a silicon-based mold dotted with tiny cylindrical holes. The team then uses ultraviolet light to cure the mix, which later peels from the mold easily. The resulting iridescent film has an array of 20-nm-high pillars on its surface that, when subsequently coated with layers of patterned polyelectrolyte, form the security tag. Moisture from a person’s breath beads up on the nanopillars but not on patches of the polyelectrolyte, revealing the hidden image.

 
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Comments
Adi Treasurywala (Fri Aug 15 10:25:38 EDT 2014)
Why is this so much more difficult to produce for counterfeiters than a hologram? Has one thought about the infections that will be transmitted by different people repeatedly breathing on something and then looking closely at it?

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