Document ‘fingerprints’ could thwart fraud
(29 July 2005)
Research by scientists at Durham and other universities has uncovered tiny built-in “fingerprint” features on documents and plastic cards that could help to fight fraud.
Their work, which involves members of Durham’s Physics Department, is reported in the science journal Nature. It shows that a laser scanner can detect microscopic details on paper and plastic surfaces that are almost impossible to modify or forge. The researchers at Imperial College London, Durham University and the University of Sheffield, found that this ‘signature’ is unaffected by scrubbing, scorching or being scribbled on. The system could be used to increase the security of documents such as passports and credit cards.
Leader of the team is Professor Russell Cowburn, formerly at Durham and now Professor of Nanotechnology at Imperial, who said: “This is a system so secure that not even the inventors would be able to crack it. It’s as if documents and packaging have their own unique DNA. This makes protection covert, low-cost, simple to integrate into the manufacturing process and immune to attacks against the security feature.”
See also: www.nature.com/index.html