Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Tiny particles could help verify goods: Chemical engineers hope smartphone-readable microparticles could crack down on counterfeiting

Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT
Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Abstract:
Some 2 to 5 percent of all international trade involves counterfeit goods, according to a 2013 United Nations report. These illicit products — which include electronics, automotive and aircraft parts, pharmaceuticals, and food — can pose safety risks and cost governments and private companies hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

Tiny particles could help verify goods: Chemical engineers hope smartphone-readable microparticles could crack down on counterfeiting

Cambridge, MA | Posted on April 15th, 2014

Many strategies have been developed to try to label legitimate products and prevent illegal trade — but these tags are often too easy to fake, are unreliable, or cost too much to implement, according to MIT researchers who have developed a new alternative.

Led by MIT chemical engineering professor Patrick Doyle and Lincoln Laboratory technical staff member Albert Swiston, the researchers have invented a new type of tiny, smartphone-readable particle that they believe could be deployed to help authenticate currency, electronic parts, and luxury goods, among other products. The particles, which are invisible to the naked eye, contain colored stripes of nanocrystals that glow brightly when lit up with near-infrared light.

These particles can easily be manufactured and integrated into a variety of materials, and can withstand extreme temperatures, sun exposure, and heavy wear, says Doyle, the senior author of a paper describing the particles in the April 13 issue of Nature Materials. They could also be equipped with sensors that can "record" their environments — noting, for example, if a refrigerated vaccine has ever been exposed to temperatures too high or low.

The paper's lead authors are MIT postdoc Jiseok Lee and graduate student Paul Bisso. MIT graduate students Rathi Srinivas and Jae Jung Kim also contributed to the research.

'A massive encoding capacity'

The new particles are about 200 microns long and include several stripes of different colored nanocrystals, known as "rare earth upconverting nanocrystals." These crystals are doped with elements such as ytterbium, gadolinium, erbium, and thulium, which emit visible colors when exposed to near-infrared light. By altering the ratios of these elements, the researchers can tune the crystals to emit any color in the visible spectrum.

To manufacture the particles, the researchers used stop-flow lithography, a technique developed previously by Doyle. This approach allows shapes to be imprinted onto parallel flowing streams of liquid monomers — chemical building blocks that can form longer chains called polymers. Wherever pulses of ultraviolet light strike the streams, a reaction is set off that forms a solid polymeric particle.

In this case, each polymer stream contains nanocrystals that emit different colors, allowing the researchers to form striped particles. So far, the researchers have created nanocrystals in nine different colors, but it should be possible to create many more, Doyle says.

Using this procedure, the researchers can generate vast quantities of unique tags. With particles that contain six stripes, there are 1 million different possible color combinations; this capacity can be exponentially enhanced by tagging products with more than one particle. For example, if the researchers created a set of 1,000 unique particles and then tagged products with any 10 of those particles, there would be 1030 possible combinations — far more than enough to tag every grain of sand on Earth.

"It's really a massive encoding capacity," says Bisso, who started this project while on the technical staff at Lincoln Lab. "You can apply different combinations of 10 particles to products from now until long past our time and you'll never get the same combination."

"The use of these upconverting nanocrystals is quite clever and highly enabling," says Jennifer Lewis, a professor of biologically inspired engineering at Harvard University who was not involved in the research. "There are several striking features of this work, namely the exponentially scaling encoding capacities and the ultralow decoding false-alarm rate."

Versatile particles

The microparticles could be dispersed within electronic parts or drug packaging during the manufacturing process, incorporated directly into 3-D-printed objects, or printed onto currency, the researchers say. They could also be incorporated into ink that artists could use to authenticate their artwork.

The researchers demonstrated the versatility of their approach by using two polymers with radically different material properties — one hydrophobic and one hydrophilic —to make their particles. The color readouts were the same with each, suggesting that the process could easily be adapted to many types of products that companies might want to tag with these particles, Bisso says.

"The ability to tailor the tag's material properties without impacting the coding strategy is really powerful," he says. "What separates our system from other anti-counterfeiting technologies is this ability to rapidly and inexpensively tailor material properties to meet the needs of very different and challenging requirements, without impacting smartphone readout or requiring a complete redesign of the system."

Another advantage to these particles is that they can be read without an expensive decoder like those required by most other anti-counterfeiting technologies. Using a smartphone camera equipped with a lens offering twentyfold magnification, anyone could image the particles after shining near-infrared light on them with a laser pointer. The researchers are also working on a smartphone app that would further process the images and reveal the exact composition of the particles.

The research was funded by the U.S. Air Force, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, the Singapore-MIT Alliance, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, and the National Institutes of Health.

####

For more information, please click here

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Toyocolor to Launch New Carbon Nanotube Materials at nano tech 2015 January 24th, 2015

NANOPOSTER 2015 - 5th Virtual Nanotechnology Conference - call for abstracts January 24th, 2015

Nanosensor Used for Simultaneous Determination of Effective Tea Components January 24th, 2015

Videos/Movies

OCSiAl supports NanoART Imagery Contest January 23rd, 2015

Laser-generated surface structures create extremely water-repellent metals: Super-hydrophobic properties could lead to applications in solar panels, sanitation and as rust-free metals January 20th, 2015

Hydrogels deliver on blood-vessel growth: Rice researchers introduce improved injectable scaffold to promote healing January 20th, 2015

Going with the flow January 16th, 2015

Law enforcement/Anti-Counterfeiting/Security/Loss prevention

Smart keyboard cleans and powers itself -- and can tell who you are January 21st, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made: Rice University theory shows it should be possible to tune material's properties January 24th, 2015

Scientists 'bend' elastic waves with new metamaterials that could have commercial applications: Materials could benefit imaging and military enhancements such as elastic cloaking January 23rd, 2015

Harper Government Supports Research Innovation in Western Canada January 22nd, 2015

EnvisioNano: An image contest hosted by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) January 22nd, 2015

Discoveries

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Nanosensor Used for Simultaneous Determination of Effective Tea Components January 24th, 2015

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made: Rice University theory shows it should be possible to tune material's properties January 24th, 2015

Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism: The material has potential for flexible electronics January 23rd, 2015

Announcements

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Toyocolor to Launch New Carbon Nanotube Materials at nano tech 2015 January 24th, 2015

NANOPOSTER 2015 - 5th Virtual Nanotechnology Conference - call for abstracts January 24th, 2015

Nanosensor Used for Simultaneous Determination of Effective Tea Components January 24th, 2015

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Nanosensor Used for Simultaneous Determination of Effective Tea Components January 24th, 2015

New technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials January 23rd, 2015

Iranian Scientists Produce Graphene-Based Oxygen Sensor January 23rd, 2015

Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism: The material has potential for flexible electronics January 23rd, 2015

Military

The latest fashion: Graphene edges can be tailor-made: Rice University theory shows it should be possible to tune material's properties January 24th, 2015

Scientists 'bend' elastic waves with new metamaterials that could have commercial applications: Materials could benefit imaging and military enhancements such as elastic cloaking January 23rd, 2015

Laser-generated surface structures create extremely water-repellent metals: Super-hydrophobic properties could lead to applications in solar panels, sanitation and as rust-free metals January 20th, 2015

Solving an organic semiconductor mystery: Berkeley Lab researchers uncover hidden structures in domain interfaces that hamper performance January 16th, 2015

Automotive/Transportation

Teijin to Participate in Nano Tech 2015 January 22nd, 2015

Materials - Efficient catalysts... January 13th, 2015

Waterloo chemist one step closer to a new generation of electric car battery January 12th, 2015

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency and environment: It grasps both performance efficiency and removal of toxic heavy metal ions in direct methanol fuel cells January 5th, 2015

Aerospace/Space

Scientists 'bend' elastic waves with new metamaterials that could have commercial applications: Materials could benefit imaging and military enhancements such as elastic cloaking January 23rd, 2015

Teijin to Participate in Nano Tech 2015 January 22nd, 2015

Production of Special Nanocomposite in Iran with Application in Railways December 23rd, 2014

Lifeboat Foundation gives 2014 Guardian Award to Elon Musk December 16th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE