Monday, January 31, 2011
Butterfly-inspired invention could stump counterfeiters - CTV News
Here's another example of man imitating nature and I would not hesitate to say that every invention that man takes credit for is only a pale imitation of what already exists.
A Canadian invention that was inspired by butterflies could help clip the wings of clever counterfeiters.
Clint Landrock, an inventor and scientist working in the field of nano-technology, has come up with a method that uses tiny "nano-scopic" perforations to protect bank notes and other documents from forgers.
The tiny holes, each one 1,500 times smaller than a human hair, reflect and refract light, and unlike a hologram, can't be duplicated or photocopied.
"Because they're so small and because of that scale it's very difficult to produce a master stamp that you would use to create the feature on something like a banknote," Landrock recently told Canada AM.
"So it's extremely difficult and the machinery that is required to develop that type of technology is very expensive."
It was during a trip to Costa Rica several years ago that Landrock first developed the idea for the invention. He was inspired by the blue morpho -- a butterfly that uses tiny perforations in its wings to reflect and refract light in a brilliant, flashing display.
Then, a few years later as a grad student at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, Landrock found himself studying solar technology and searching for ways to better enhance sunlight.
He remembered the butterfly and its ability to manipulate light, and began trying to find ways to incorporate nature's technology into his work.
When another project came along, this time focusing on anti-counterfeit technology, Landrock realized it was another opportunity to mimic the insect.
Using the tiny perforations he devised a way to create patterns that appear to glow like an LED when held up to a light, much like the blue morpho.
"We thought, these things, they luminesce so brightly on their own, and we can code them, these would be a great candidate to use on a bank note or a passport," Landrock said.
Landrock and his colleagues at Nanotech Security Corp. have been pitching their product to "a number of world banks" including the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve and are working on bringing the technology to market.
"Bank notes are just the beginning for us," he said.
"Any security documents requiring high security all the way down to brand identification, media, DVD software, running shoes, that kind of thing. We're looking at hopefully expanding into those areas as we progress."