Authentication/tamper-indication is required in a wide range of applications, including nuclear materials management and product counterfeit detection. State-of-the-art techniques include reflective particle tags, laser speckle authentication, and birefringent seals. Each of these passive techniques has its own advantages and disadvantages, including the need for complex image comparisons, limited flexibility, sensitivity to environmental conditions, limited functionality, etc. We have developed a new active approach to address some of these short-comings. The use of an active characterization technique adds more flexibility and additional layers of security over current techniques. Our approach uses randomly-distributed nanoparticles embedded in a polymer matrix (tag/seal) which is attached to the item to be secured. A spatial light modulator is used to adjust the wavefront of a laser which interacts with the tag/seal, and a detector is used to monitor this interaction. The interaction can occur in various ways, including transmittance, reflectance, fluorescence, random lasing, etc. For example, at the time of origination, the wavefront-shaped reflectance from a tag/seal can be adjusted to result in a specific pattern (symbol, words, etc.) Any tampering with the tag/seal would results in a disturbance of the random orientation of the nanoparticles and thus distort the reflectance pattern. A holographic waveplate could be inserted into the laser beam for verification. The absence/distortion of the original pattern would then indicate that tampering has occurred. We have tested the tag/seal’s and authentication method’s tamper-indicating ability using various attack methods, including mechanical, thermal, and chemical attacks, and have verified our material/method’s robust tamper-indicating ability.
Hergen Eilers, Benjamin R. Anderson, and Ray Gunawidjaja, "Authentication via wavefront-shaped optical responses," Proc. SPIE 10539, Photonic Instrumentation Engineering V, 1053916 (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 02, 2018; Published: 22 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2284354.
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