Working with capsules of dye just a few billionths of a metre in diameter, researchers at University of Toronto and the advanced optical microscopy facility at Torontos Princess Margaret Hospital have created a new strategy for encrypting photographs, signatures and fingerprints on security documents.
"This technology will give security or customs authorities the confidence that documents are not fake," says U of T chemistry professor Eugenia Kumacheva, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Advanced Polymer Materials. "It gives a very high level of data encryption and is relatively cheap to produce."
A thin film of polymer material is produced from tiny three-layer capsules comprising three different dyes, Kumacheva explains. Each layer is sensitive to light at a particular wavelength – ultraviolet, visible or infrared. Using high-intensity irradiation, Kumacheva uses differing wavelengths to encrypt several different patterns onto a security document. To the naked eye, the identification document (a passport or smart card, for example) might reveal a photograph, but under other detection devices could reveal signatures or fingerprints.
Nicolle Wahl | University of Toronto
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