"Fingerprint" on materials

A unique 'fingerprint' formed by microscopic surfaceimperfections on almost all paper documents, plastic cards andproduct packaging could be used as a cheaper method to combatfraud, scientists suggest.This inherent identity code is virtually impossible to modifyand can be easily read using a low-cost portable laser scanner,according to research carried out at Imperial College London andDurham University, and published in Nature today.Researchers believe the technology could also prove valuable inthe fight against terrorism through the ability to securepassports, ID cards and 'breeder' documents such as birthcertificates used to obtain genuine passports.Using the optical phenomenon of 'laser speckle', researchersexamined the fine structure of different surfaces using a focusedlaser, and recorded the intensity of the reflection. The techniquewas tried on a variety of materials including matt-finish plasticcards, identity cards and coated paperboard packaging and resultedin clear recognition between the samples. This continued even afterthey were subjected to rough handling including submersion inwater, scorching, scrubbing with an abrasive cleaning pad and beingscribbled on with thick black marker.

Source: ingeniatechnology.comAdded: 25 October 2005